A British woman paralysed in a riding accident has regained some movement after stem cells from her nose were transplanted into her spine. The operation took place in Portugal under the direction of Dr Carlos Lima, who has used the technique on 34 patients. “All of our patients have some kind of recovery,” he says. We have no doubts about sensory recovery and some voluntary motor recovery. They move and feel below the lesions [on the spine] as never before. And there is even some bladder and bowel control.”
The technique involves extracting olfactory ensheathing cells from the upper nasal cavity. This area contains the body’s only surface neurons and is a source of nerve stem cells. Dr Lima prefers these to embryonic stem cells for ethical and for practical reasons. “Mother Nature made embryonic stem cells to proliferate and adult stem cells to replace and repair. To defy Mother Nature’s laws is, at least, dangerous,” he says.
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