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Stem Cell Therapy Results Reported for Spinal Cord Injury

Model of spine (NIH)


Researchers for StemCells Inc. in Newark, California reported interim, largely positive, results from a clinical trial of stem cell therapy to treat spinal cord injury. The findings were reported yesterday at a meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society in London.

The trial tests StemCells’ therapy to treat disorders of the central nervous system, called HuCNS-SC, conducted at the Spinal Cord Injury Center at Balgrist University Hospital, part of University of Zurich. The study, a phase 1/phase 2 trial, tests the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of the treatments on patients with thoracic — chest level — spinal cord trauma, where there is no neurological function below the level of injury.

At the International Spinal Cord Society meeting, Armin Curt of Balgrist hospital, who is leading the trial said, “two of the three patients have gained considerable sensory function. The gains in sensation have evolved in a progressive pattern below the level of injury and are unanticipated in spinal cord injury patients with this severity of injury, suggesting that the neural stem cells are having a beneficial clinical effect.”

Curt continued, “Sensory function of all these patients was stable before transplantation, so the reappearance of sensation is rather unexpected.” He added that “these three patients have tolerated the cell transplantation very well, and we have no safety concerns at this point.”

HuCNS-SC consists of purified human neural stem cells. The company says the three patients were transplanted four to nine months after injury with a dose of 20 million cells at the site of injury. The company says the surgery, immunosuppression, and cell transplants were well tolerated by the patients.

Stephen Huhn, vice-president of StemCells Inc. says, “To our knowledge, this is the first time a sensory change of this magnitude has been reported in patients with complete spinal cord injury following a stem cell transplantation.  We clearly need to collect more data to establish efficacy, but we are encouraged.”

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Hat tip: Med City News

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