Six months after an experimental treatment, a dog named Jasper can walk again.This “utterly magic” — according to the dog’s owner — treatment is thanks to researchers from the University of Cambridge. They’ve restored the ability for dogs with spinal injuries to walk again by injecting them with special cells taken from their own noses.
“Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement. 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 that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function. It’s more likely that this procedure might one day be used as part of a combination of treatments, alongside drug and physical therapies, for example.”
The scientists used 34 pet dogs that had suffered spontaneous and accidental injuries to their spinal cords, which left them unable to use their hind legs. They took a special type of cell from the dogs’ noses, called the olfactory ensheathing cells, and grew them up in the lab. These cells maintain the nerve pathways between the nose and the brain, and have special properties that support nerve fibre growth.
After enough cells were grown in the lab, they were injected into the spine and were able to regenerate the damaged nerves and help the dogs regain the ability to walk. Check the video below to see Jasper before and after six months of treatment:
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