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Paralyzed man walks again

By Tim Sandle     Oct 21, 2014 in Science
A remarkable story: a paralyzed Bulgarian man called Darek Fidyka is walking again after novel treatment by doctors. The treatment consisted of implanted regenerative cells.
Using a pioneering technique, British and Polish doctors have helped a once wheelchair-bound firefighter called Darek Fidyka, paralyzed from the chest down in a knife attack, to walk again. According to The Independent, Fidyka had been confined to a wheelchair since 2010. This was after an attacker stabbed him in the back, brutally slicing through his spine.
This wondrous feat came about after medics succeeded in implanting regenerative cells into the man's body. These were specialist human cells which act to repair damage to nasal nerves in order to enable spinal nerve fibers to re-grow and bridge a severed cord. The novel process was successful and the implanted cells managed to connect back together the spinal cord and this led to the restoration of sensation and muscle control to Fidyka's legs. This is the first time where a complete spinal paralysis has been reversed.
The procedure was developed by researchers based at University College London. led by Professor Geoffrey Raisman, and the procedure was performed by surgeons operating in the Polish city of Wroclaw (Wroclaw Medical University). With the process, olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) were inserted using micro-surgery into an 8 milimeter (0.3 inch) gap in the spinal cord. As a strange-but-true fact, OECs are specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell.
Ten months after the surgery, the Darek Fidyka was able to walk with the aid of braces and a walking frame. Today is able to drive and live relatively independently. Interviewed by the BBC, Fidyka said walking again - with the support of a frame - was "an incredible feeling. 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."
Beyond the recent success, the procedure offers hope of a life-changing therapy for millions of people suffering with different forms of paralysis. To further their research, The Guardian reports, the scientists behind the experiments need to raise approximately $16 million to fund surgery in Poland for a group of ten patients.
Details of the study have been published in the journal Cell Transplantation. The paper is titled "Transplantation of Autologous Olfactory Ensheathing Cells in Complete Human Spinal Cord Injury."
More about Paralyzed, Stem cells, Walking, Medical
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