Advancements in spine repair could be propelling us into a future where a severed spinal cord is a treatable condition. A team of researchers from Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University have reportedly enabled previously paralyzed rats to walk again. The group used a pioneering surgical procedure to repair the animals’ spinal cords.
This medical feat, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, was accomplished by placing stem cells taken from the mouth of an adult human onto a biodegradable, sponge-like scaffold. This was inserted at the site of the spinal injury in rats, bridging the gap and allowing instructions to be passed from the brain to the rest of the body.
After two or three weeks, five of the 12 rats (42 percent) that received this treatment were able to start walking and were apparently moving around almost as a non-injured animal would. In addition to improved mobility, there were signs that these rats also regained sensory perception. The spinal cord regenerated to some extent in the other seven, but not enough to qualify as full recovery.
In comparison, none of the animals that did not receive this treatment regained their movement and sensory perception.