Transplanted nose cells help paralyzed man walk
A paralyzed Bulgarian man has regained the ability to walk with the help of a frame after a groundbreaking surgery involving cells from his nose transplanted into his spinal cord.
The man became paralyzed after being stabbed in the back in 2010. A certain type of nose cell, called an olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC), permits nerve fibers to regenerate into the brain. Scientists from Neurosurgery at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland created a “bridge” across the scar on his spinal cord and used OECs so nerve fibers could regrow.
First, surgeons removed one of his olfactory bulbs up in his nose and grew OECs in culture. Two weeks later the OECs were transplanted into the patient’s spinal cord—a strip of ankle nerves was grafted on to create a “bridge” for the gap. The OECs successfully sparked the spinal nerve fibers to regrow across the grafted ankle nerves.
After months of intense rehabilitation and management, the patient has recovered some voluntary movements and sensation in his legs. He continues to improve and is even able to drive and live independently today. This surgery may provide a breakthrough in treating spinal cord injuries.