One of the main objectives of stem cell research on paralysis is the restoration of motor functions in paralyzed patients. This objective has been finally accomplished. One lucky man named Kristopher (Kris) Boesen has undergone a stem cell treatment for paralysis and regained motor functions! Here are a few of the most important facts that contributed to the success of the clinical trials done on Kristopher Boesen.
Who Received the Treatment?
Kris Boesen, a resident of Bakersfield, was driving on a wet road when he lost control of his car. Unfortunately, this accident led to him being paralyzed from the neck down. According to doctors, a case such as his would very unlikely see any improvement in motor or sensory functioning.
Where Did He Receive the Treatment?
Luckily for Boesen, the doctors at the University of Southern California and Asterias Biotherapeutics were conducting clinical trials for stem cell treatment for paralysis. Boesen and 4 other patients who were part of these trials saw vast improvement and recovery following this procedure.
What Did the Procedure Entail?
Administering this procedure involves injecting 10 million AST-OPC1 cells into the cervical spinal cord. Scientists acquire these from embryonic stem cells. Given this, the procedure involved in this treatment is essentially an allogeneic stem cell transplant. Additionally, the AST-OPC1 cells are usually part of the brain and spinal cord where they function to support nerve cells. The scientists were performing these trials with the intention of testing the response to the injection of high doses of these cells into the body.
How Did the Doctors Go About the Procedure?
Prior to the development of this procedure, patients with severe spinal injuries would undergo surgery to stabilize the spine. But, the effects of this surgery are limited to stabilization and do very little for recovering sensation. Additionally, restoring stability also does not help with developing motor function. Also, following the injection of the cells into his cervical spine, Boesen underwent physical therapy. He was also under observation as the cells continued to develop within him.
When Did He Recover?
After 2 short weeks, Boesen was showing signs of considerable improvement. He was able to regain a significant amount of mobility in his upper body after three and a half months. Today, Kris Boesen is now able to brush his own teeth as well as eat on his own. He now has sufficient fine motor skills to be able to text on his phone. Given this, the procedure significantly uplifted his quality of life.
Why Is This Success Important?
Before the success of this procedure, it has been very difficult for patients suffering from spinal cord injuries to recover completely. This procedure functions as a stepping stone for stem cell therapy in the world of medical technology. Given this, we can look forward to the development of more methods to treat and restore motor skills and sensory functioning in paralyzed individuals. Hopefully, we will be able to see cases involving varying degrees of spinal cord injury to experience a smoother and quicker recovery.