Paralyzed Man Walks After Nose Cells Transplanted Into Spinal Cord

By Carl Engelking | October 22, 2014 12:22 pm

nose

The same cells that give Darek Fidyka his sense of smell are also helping him walk again.

The man, who was paralyzed after a knife attack in 2010, can walk after doctors in Poland transplanted nerve cells from his nose into his severed spinal cord. The successful operation was the first of its kind for regenerative medicine, and Fidyka is believed to be the first man to walk again after having a completely severed spinal cord.

The Nose Knows?

We owe our sense of smell to a pair of nerve cell bundles called olfactory bulbs, which reside on the underside of our brains behind our eyes. These structures help us smell grandma’s apple pie, but they’re unique for another reason: They’re one of the few known parts of the nervous system that regenerates throughout life.

Doctors wanted to harness the regenerative capabilities of olfactory nerve cells, so they removed one of Fidyka’s olfactory bulbs in an operation two years ago. They took olfactory ensheathing cells from the bulb, and grew these regenerating cells in a petri dish. After two weeks, doctors injected the nose cells into the spinal cord. Doctors also transplanted four strips of Fidyka’s ankle nerve fibers to bridge the 8-milimeter gap in his severed spine, and allow a path for the cells to grow.

Within three months, the treatment was reaping rewards. Fidyka — paralyzed from the chest down — regained feeling in his lower extremities; his left leg developed muscle mass; and bladder, bowel and sexual functions even returned, the BBC reports. Most importantly, he can now walk once again with the assistance of a frame. Researchers published their results Tuesday in the journal Cell Transplantation. 

Next Steps

Professor Geoffrey Raisman, whose team at University College London performed the technique, hopes to similarly treat three more people in Poland over the next few years if funding for medical trials can be obtained. He told the Guardian:

“We believe that this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury.”

However, the main takeaway from Fidyka’s story is that this procedure is proven to be safe, at least in one person. Researchers are now looking for the best source of olfactory sheathing cells, and are working to develop biomaterials to bridge the gap in severed spinal cords.

Either way, it seems, these researchers are on the scent of a treatment that could change the lives of millions of paralyzed people around the world.

 

Photo credit: /Shutterstock

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  • Lorn

    Amazing!

  • john

    Olfactory cells were an excellent choice. One of the key ingredients to success is an extracellular matrix, which they used from the patient’s ankle. Even better, the article talks about biomaterials as extracellular scaffold. Fortunately researchers are on that. InVivo Therapeutics got monkeys to walk again and are currently testing their scaffold for safety in a human patient. Combine that with the cells and goodbye paralysis.

  • nik

    Would this help people partially paralysed by polio?

  • xyx

    The paralyzed man is POLISH and technique was invented and performed by POLISH scientists and doctors! SHAME ON YOU Carl Engelking for writing such lies!

    • rhetorical1

      WTF are you trying to say?

      • http://www.tenawesomeyears.blogspot.com/ TenAwesomeYears

        I may be wrong, but I think that he means that the guy was Polish and the doctors were also Polish. And Poland is damn far away from both Bułgaria and UK.

        • rhetorical1

          That could explain his comment. Thanks

    • Jim M

      You are all wrong.

      The pioneer of this technique was Dr. Carlos Lima, a Portuguese doctor (now deceased) who published the 1st pilot studies way back in 2006. He had many patients with dramatic increases in mobility and took a while for the technique to actually be taken seriously.

      That man deserves full credit for being THE pioneer of this technique

  • http://www.tenawesomeyears.blogspot.com/ TenAwesomeYears

    Do your research. The guy was Polish and so were the doctors and therefore the technique. British staff had only auxiliary role. Why the hell are you quotig some British dude who contributed next to nothing to this operation? Paweł Tabakow is the mam you should be quoting and surprise surprise, he’s not British.

    • rodmarcia

      Maybe he quoted the British dude because his first language is English, which is the language this article is written in.

      • http://www.tenawesomeyears.blogspot.com/ TenAwesomeYears

        Are you saying that you think that the guy who actually did it, superhero of neurosurgeons, Tabakow, knows how to fix a spine, but doesn’t know how to speak English? Or that nobody bothered to translate words of the author of this success?

        • rodmarcia

          I think intelligence and speaking English are not related. I’m sure there are plenty of geniuses in this world who don’t speak English or don’t speak it well.

          • HLTGRP

            But …. But …. MURRRICA!!!! Isn’t everyone else a weird little brown person who is also inherently dumb? (sarcasm reflecting actual viewpoint of many people i know here in MURRICA!)

    • Spazturtle

      Because all the research was done by British scientists and the technique was developed by British scientists.

    • Jim M

      You are both wrong.

      The pioneer of this technique was Dr. Carlos Lima, a Portuguese doctor (now deceased) who published the 1st pilot studies way back in 2006. He had many patients with dramatic increases in mobility and took a while for the technique to actually be taken seriously.

      That man deserves full credit for being THE pioneer of this technique

      • http://www.tenawesomeyears.blogspot.com/ TenAwesomeYears

        I never wrote that Poles invented the technique. I’m writing, that they succesfuly used it. They, not the British team.

    • Elizabeth

      Do your research. The man was Bulgarian !

      • don johnson

        but born in greece to swedish parents who were vacationing on siphnos.

  • kmtominey44

    eye – the article stated that he was bulgarian, treated in poland by a british team. Why the rant? This could be good news for MS sufferers as well as ALD where degeneration of the myelin is the problem.

    • http://www.tenawesomeyears.blogspot.com/ TenAwesomeYears

      He is Polish, treated in Poland, by Polish doctors, Brits are doing the convalescence only. Do your research!

  • lesizz

    I’m wondering if this technique can be used for other areas, such as regeneration of hearing loss due to cell damage in the ear

  • Syed W Ahmed

    All comments within the norm of ethical reporting and respect seem to be educational and informative. Any confusion on news reporting shall be corrected for posterity.
    I have my confusion why under “Next Step” it is said, and I quote “Professor Geoffrey Raisman, whose team at University College London
    performed the technique, hopes to similarly treat three more people in
    Poland over the next few years if funding for medical trials can be
    obtained.”
    If the Polish doctors and scientists have invented the technique then I would love to have their names for my education. I am not a medical student. I am a senior citizen and would love to expand my horizons without any offense to any one. The reporting seems to lack information about the inventor and his technique who should have been reported.

    • http://www.tenawesomeyears.blogspot.com/ TenAwesomeYears

      A Portuguese doctor, Carlos Lima, invented it, the Polish doctors performed the surgery, that’s it.

  • Yare Time

    This author is a dumbass. Nice file photo.

  • https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=wm#inbox/14759120438f012d Sue Zbell

    But can he smell?

    • Don’t Even Try It!

      Only when he doesn’t bathe 😉

  • Jim M

    To those who say Polish or British scientists invented this technique:

    You are both wrong.

    The pioneer of this technique was Dr. Carlos Lima, a Portuguese doctor (now deceased) who published the 1st pilot studies way back in 2006. He had many patients with dramatic increases in mobility and took a while for the technique to actually be taken seriously.

    That man deserves full credit for being THE pioneer of this technique

  • HvacNews

    Human beings doing amazing things to help another human being is how I read it.

  • http://www.pmurraymusic.com/ P. Murray

    Dear America:

    More funding & focus on great breakthroughs like this instead of international conflicts for oil, please? And thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Everyone

    • eirikr1

      how about more funding for BOTH??
      Or should the US just ignore heathen scum beheading innocents?

      • SandyTodd

        We ignore our citizens being slaughtered with guns pushed by heathen NRA scum every day of the week.

      • HLTGRP

        How about zero funding for wars and 100% funding for longevity, and curing death.

  • Syed W Ahmed

    Thanks TenAwesomeYears.

  • Nicole

    Are you all seriously arguing over who invented it, who performed it and where the guy was from? Isn’t it just amazing that he can walk again?!

    • HLTGRP

      Its Nationalism. The biggest cancer upon this earth. If the person is from “MY” country then “MY” country gets props. I hope Nationalism dies a quick death.

    • Jose Ferreira

      Walk again? I know hundreds of paralysed people with complete injuries that can move themselves on paralel bars, as good or even better than that guy. That is not walking. I would be glad if it was but all i can see there is BS. And i cant stand to watch some people trying to fool others.

  • Blee

    Please look here for access to the full text article, including the names of the researchers, for fact-checking: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct/pre-prints/content-CT-1239_Tabakow_et_al

  • AZbyNM

    If Poland can do it. why can’t we americans do the same thing too,with vastly more resources than a small country such as Poland.

    • SandyTodd

      I suspect we lost a lot of years of stem cell research with the fetus loving hysteria in this country.

      • guy

        I suspect that fetal stem cells had little to do with the success of this procedure, as the topic is not mentioned in the article at all.

  • J_R_K

    I believe this is probably the finest, most positive news story I have read in a long, long time.

  • Jebby Pinoy

    just simply celebrate the joy of this guy being able to walk again, end of….. :)

  • SmythRadio

    GOD BLESS YOU!!!! AMEN!!!!

  • Anna Scruggs

    I hope that this continues to work well, and that if it does it becomes affordable to every person who needs it, this is a very encouraging article.

  • Jose Ferreira

    It does matter in fact, a lot. To not take someone else´s hard work credits.

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