Nice coverage on CBS news this week.
The solution can't come fast enough for patients desperate for help now.
Later this year, Dr. Hans Keirstead of UC Irvine, working with Geron
corporation, will begin the first FDA-approved trial of human embryonic stem cells to treat paralyzed patients - within two weeks of injury.
In spinal cord injury, the insulation coating the wires in the cord is destroyed. Electrical messages from the brain can't get past the point of injury - and function is lost.
"It's like you have a bunch of wires that are short-circuiting," Keirstead said. "The tissue that's left doesn't work - because they can't conduct electricity up and down your cord."
Keirstead and his team figured out a way to turn stem cells into a cell that makes insulation for the spinal cord.
Millions of these cells will be injected into the damaged area. The hope is by restoring the insulation, the spinal cord will work again.
"I expect incremental benefits to the humans that get this," Keirstead said. "I think they are going to get better, and I'm just dying to find out if I'm right." http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6305502n&tag=related;photovideo http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/16/eveningnews/main6305092.shtml