Update on Stem Cell Trials for Spinal Cord Injuries

About 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury occur each year. The average annual cost for patients living with spinal cord injury is more than $70,000.

Armin Curt, MD, principal investigator in the StemCells trial for spinal cord injury patients, gave an update on the Phase I/II trials at the recent annual meeting of the American Spine Injury Association. All patients in the study have chronic spinal cord injuries and were treated with human central nervous system stem cells and short-term immunosuppressive drugs.

Dr. Curt reported that post–transplant gains in sensory function that were first reported in two patients have now appeared in two additional patients. The initial group of spinal cord injury patients participating in the trial had no mobility or sensory perception below the point of injury. Those in the second group were paralyzed but retained sensory perception below the point of injury. Two of the three patients in this second group, treated four to 24 months post injury, had significant sensory gains.

Researchers also noted that no one in the trial has experienced any adverse medical anomalies, such as segment deterioration, unexpected or unknown pain conditions, or loss of overall functional capacity.

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