The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved phase one clinical trials for a new treatment designed to help those with severe spinal cord injuries. Researchers are beginning work to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of transplanting Schwann cells to help those with paralysis. The trial is the first of its kind in the world.
Schwann cells are found in the human peripheral nervous system. They play a key role both in the transmission of electrical impulses between axons and the development and regeneration of nerves. As part of the trial, a group of eight patients – made up of those with severe spinal cord injuries or those within one month of paralysis – with receive transplants of their own Schwann cells.
This treatment has shown promise in a laboratory setting and in mice and pigs, and researchers hope it will be as effective on human patients. If the treatment is successful, it will likely change the lives of many with severe spinal cord injuries.
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Source: ABC News, “Spinal-Cord Injury Therapy OK’d by FDA Could Lead to Cures,” Susan Donaldson James.