In the study, funded by the Medical Research Council in the UK and published in the neurology journal Brain, 34 pet dogs all with spinal injuries were used. The dogs had olfactory ensheathing cells from the lining of their nose removed. The cells were grown and expanded for several weeks in the laboratory and then transplanted into the injury site. Twenty-three dogs had actual cells transplanted while the other 11 were given a neutral fluid as a control.
According to the BBC interview: Many of the dogs that received the transplant showed considerable improvement and were able to walk on a treadmill with the support of a harness. None of the control group regained use of its back legs.
Professor Robin Franklin of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute told The Times: “The principle is, we take these cells from one location where they get nerve fibers to grow, and take them to a location where nerve fibers don’t usually grow.”
“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 it’s not the magic bullet that’s going to solve spinal cord injury,” says Franklin. ·
Whether this will bridge between damaged and undamaged parts of the spine will work in humans is still unknown. But the success of the experiment does give some hope to people with spinal injuries.