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In a study which has been ongoing for many years it was found that stem cells from an animals nose could heal a spinal injury. The study was carried out at Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge,
The stem cells used are known as olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC). These cells were injjected into the spine of Jasper a dachshund. Jasper had lost the use of its back legs. In six weeks the dog made a remarkable recovery. After treatment lasting six months he is back to running around.
The research offers some hope to people who become paralysed. It may still be decades away but in theory this treatment could be used on humans and help restore mobility.
The report is published in the Brain Journal. It involved 34 dogs. Improvements in the animals varied but any improvement which will give you more quality of life has to be good. In the case of humans an imrpovement in bodily functions is important. Most of us would hate to be incontinent. Many people who are paralysed are doubly incontient.
Professor Robin Franklin who was involved in the studysaid, 'Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement.' "We're confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries but that's a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function. 'It's more likely that this procedure might one day be used as part of a combination of treatments, alongside drug and physical therapies, for example.'
The study still leaves some unanswered questions such as the long term effects. However it offers hope and in the case of Jasper it has restored his life. Dogs after all are all about walking.