Using Stem Cells to Repair Spinal Cord Injuries

The Journal of Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery has reported that researchers from Yale Univ. and Japan have intravenously injected patients with spinal cord injuries with bone marrow derived stem cells or MSCs from their own bodies.

Substantial improvements were noticed for more than half of the patients in key functions. Within weeks of these injections, patients were noted to have the ability to walk or use their hands with no substantial side effects.

The patients comprised of people that had spinal cord injuries that were non-penetrating from falls or minor trauma. The stem cells were injected several weeks after the injury. Some of their symptoms included sensory loss, bowel and/or bladder dysfunction or loss of coordination and motor function. The stem cells used were gathered from the patient’s bone marrow. This took a couple of weeks and was derived from a culture protocol in a specialized cell processing center. They were then intravenously injected into the patient.

Restoring functions after spinal cord injuries with the patients own stem cells has been thought about for years. The researchers are now very optimistic about the results but cited more studies will be needed. The results are preliminary and will need to be confirmed, which could take years.

They state that studies in patients that have had a stroke have had similar results. This approach gives them confidence that this procedure may be possible in people with spinal cord injuries.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Intravenous infusion of auto serum-expanded autologous mesenchymal stem cells in spinal cord injury patients: 13 case series