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New Stem Cell Treatment Provides Hope for Paralyzed Humans


A new medical treatment injecting embryonic stem cells and other drugs into paralyzed mice has researchers wondering if it could eventually help humans suffering from Parkinson's and other neurological diseases.

This mouse was recently paralyzed in the hind legs by a virus. Now it can move again, thanks to an experimental drug treatment put together by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Douglas Kerr of Johns Hopkins led the research. "I think that even two or three years ago, the possibility of this was really more in the realm of science fiction."

Mouse embryonic stem cells and two other chemical agents were injected into the spinal cords of 15 mice to help produce healthy nerves called motor neurons.

Eleven of the 15 mice regained muscle strength and could move again.

Dr. Naomi Kleitman, with the National Institutes of Health, says the treatment shows promise. "This is important in spinal cord injury, and in diseases like ALS. Polio would be an example where the actual connection to the muscle was lost, and now we have a possibility that that might be replaceable." [Note: ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease]

During the research, the mice embryos had to be destroyed. Groups opposed to the destruction of human embryos say they'd rather stem cells came from adults or babies' umbilical cords.

David Prentice of the Family Research Council acknowledges, "There's a lot of science yet to be done to say whether embryonic [cells] will ever be any good to treat a patient."

At a news conference in Washington recently, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback said more research into the use of adult stem cells and cord blood is needed.

"Several of these patients had to go overseas to get their treatment. They shouldn't have to do that."

The research team from Johns Hopkins says it will try to replicate the mice studies on larger animals...

Video Courtesy of The University of Missouri

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