Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant

A paralysed man has been able to walk again after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.

Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.

The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.

“Start Quote

I have waited 40 years for something like this”

Prof Wagih El MasriConsultant spinal injuries surgeon

Details of the research are published in the journal Cell Transplantation.

BBC One’s Panorama programme had unique access to the project and spent a year charting the patient’s rehabilitation.

Darek Fidyka, 40, was paralysed after being stabbed repeatedly in the back in the 2010 attack.

He said walking again – with the support of a frame – was “an incredible feeling”, adding: “When you can’t feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it’s like you were born again.”

Prof Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London’s Institute of Neurology, led the UK research team.

He said what had been achieved was “more impressive than man walking on the moon”.

UK research team leader Prof Geoff Raisman: Paralysis treatment “has vast potential”

The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) – specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell.

OECs act as pathway cells that enable nerve fibres in the olfactory system to be continually renewed.

In the first of two operations, surgeons removed one of the patient’s olfactory bulbs and grew the cells in culture.

3 replies

  1. This proves that adult stem cell research is more result oriented than any embryonic stem cell pursuit whose only utility is to satisfy those in the party of death by trying to save one life while killing the other. Adult stem cell research uses cells from parts of the body to regenerate damaged cells without causing any harm to the donor or the section of the body they were taken from.
    Let this be a lesson to supporters of embryonic stem cell research that there is a better way of restoring damaged cells than wasting human lives.
    Congratulations to the medical team that achieved this wonderful feat.

  2. “This proves that adult stem cell research is more result oriented than any embryonic stem cell pursuit…”

    With respect, it doesn’t. There are pros and cons with both methods, but the general consensus is that embryonic stem cells have an overwhelmingly higher potential to treat disease.

    Either way, I agree it’s wonderful news. Science really is amazing.

  3. Here are what others say about the controversy between adult stem cell and embryonic stem cell researches:
    USA Today “ADULT CELLS HAVE BEEN TRANSPLANTED ROUTINELY FOR DECADES, FIRST IN BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS AND THEN IN PROCEDURES THAT TRANSFER JUST THE CELLS–TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE SAVED EACH YEAR BY SUCH PROCEDURES”, EXPERTS SAY.
    Rocky Tuan, University of Pittsburgh “THAT GIVES ADULT STEM CELLS REALLY A VERY INTERESTING AND POTENT QUALITY THAT EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS DON’T HAVE”.
    Dr Robin Smith, President of the Stem For Life Foundation and co-author ‘The Healing Cell’, “THE RECENT EXPLOSION OF SUCCESS IN USING ADULT STEM CELLS TO TREAT AND CURE DISEASES MARKS A SHIFT IN THE MEDICAL FIELD BY MAKING IT UNNECESSARY TO USE THE CONTROVERSIAL EMBRYONIC STEM CELL.
    “WHILE STEM CELLS FROM HUMAN EMBRYO HAVE FAILED TO CREATE ANY SIGNIFICANT CURES OR TREATMENTS, ADULT STEM CELLS ARE SUCCESSFULLY BEING USED TO FIGHT CHRONIC DISEASES AND AN ARRAY OF DISORDERS.
    “THE SUCCESS OF ADULT STEM CELLS HAVE BEEN SO GREAT THAT THERE IS NO REASON TO CONTINUE EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH, WHICH NECESSARILY INVOLVES THE DESTRUCTION OF A HUMAN PERSON”, SHE ARGUED.
    She noted “THAT THERE ARE 4300 ADULT STEM CELL TRIALS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY, BUT ONLY 26 EMBRYONIC STEM CELL TRIALS.
    The Catholic News Agency which carried the publication noted that “1N 2012, SIR GURDON AND DR. SHINYA YAMANAKA WON THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR DEMONSTRATING THAT ADULT SKIN CELLS CAN BE ‘REPROGRAMMED’ TO BECOME ‘EMBRYONIC-LIKE’ CELLS, GIVING THEM HUGE THERAPEUTIC POTENTIALS”.
    Wikipedia: “GREAT LEVELS OF SUCCESS AND POTENTIAL HAVE BEEN SHOWN FROM RESEARCH USING ADULT STEM CELLS.
    After giving the advantages in using embryonic stem cells, the article adds “EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS, HOWEVER, MIGHT BE REJECTED BY THE IMMUNE SYSTEM-A PROBLEM WHICH WOULDN’T OCCUR IF THE PATIENT RECEIVED HIS OR HER OWN STEM CELL.
    “– ADULT STEM CELLS HAVE BEEN USED IN THE MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN DISEASES WHICH HOLDS A US INTERNATIONAL PATENT(USA PTO-6220272 AND 2002007223)
    “USING ADULT STEM CELLS, A POSSIBLE CURE FOR HIV HAS BEEN FOUND”.
    Stem cells can be obtained from the placenta and umbilical cord, which are human parts usually discarded.The cells can then be reproduced in the lab. Why waste the life of another human being?
    The success of each research is shown in the sheer volume of trials carried out.

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