New cord blood trial for spinal injury
A clinical trial, using cord blood, lithium and physical therapy to treat the most severe forms of spinal cord injury has been given the green light from the FDA.
The experimental treatment does not cure paralysis but is the first to help people with complete chronic spinal cord injuries to regain some ability to walk.
It includes doses of umbilical cord mononuclear blood stem cells and lithium, coupled with intensive physical therapy, which stimulates severed spinal cord nerve fibres to regenerate.
The treatment was first tested in a trial led by Dr Wise Young, the founding director of the Keck Center and the Richard H. Shindell Chair in Neuroscience at Rutgers.
Held between 2009-2014 in Hong Kong and China, the results showed that 15 of 20 participants walked with a wheeled walking frame and 60 percent recovered some bowel and bladder control.
“We don’t have a cure but a very promising and unprecedented therapy,” said Wise Young,
“We aren’t returning people back to their pre-injury state, but this is the first therapy to restore significant function in these patients.”
The study appeared in the journal Cell Transplantation in 2016.