DaVinci Biosciences, in collaboration with Luis Vernaza Hospital in Ecuador, this week had the results of its study demonstrating the safety and feasibility of its acute and chronic spinal cord injury treatment published in an issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cell Transplantation:
The study documents eight patients (four acute and four chronic) who were administered autologous bone marrow derived stem cells using a multiple route delivery technique. A two-year follow-up was performed on all the patients in the study who received the treatment. Using sequential MRIs, the follow-up demonstrated noticeable morphological changes within the spinal cord after administration of autologous bone marrow derived stem cells. Participating spinal cord injury patients experienced varying degrees of improvement in their quality of life, such as increased bladder control, regained mobility and sensation. Most importantly, the study demonstrated no adverse effects such as tumor formation, increased pain, and/or deterioration of function following administration of autologous bone marrow derived stem cells.
There is even a video (below) to accompany this amazing story. One patient was paralyzed for 22 years!
Studies like this should not be taken lightly by the media or the medical/scientific community at large. Spinal cord injuries – especially complete injuries – are not reversible. There is, quite literally, “no hope” – no common therapy or drug that will ever improve your mobility or function over time. It’s really a big mystery in the medical/scientific field which is why, especially doctors, find the injury so devastating. I think the most frustrating thing is that, for the most part, SCI patients are otherwise very healthy individuals. We just, for reasons science cannot fully figure out or explain, cannot reconnect the communication between our brain and the nerves and muscles below our point of injury.
I used to watch the TV show Trauma, Life in the ER a number of years ago and I had seen them react to many different situations including death, disease, coma, head injuries, but in one episode a young man came in with an SCI after a car accident and I never saw a reaction from the doctors like that. It was one of total devastation – for them, as doctors, healers, knowing that there was nothing they could offer that would even give that otherwise healthy young patient a chance to ever walk again – beyond a miracle. (note: this does not mean disabled life need be depressing or hopeless – see my posts linked below)
Now we see that that may be changing. These are still very early trials, but for several years now we’ve seen stories like this one – see here, here, here, here and here – where stem cells, ADULT stem cells, have been successful in repairing at least some of the damage associated with SCI. This is simply amazing, a real and true scientific breakthrough – better yet, it comes from research that does not require the use and destruction of tiny human beings.
One correction to the story above: those patients had their health improved, their mobility and function improved – the “quality” of their lives, however, has not changed as it is not dependent on their physical ability, but on their nature as human beings.