A research team at the Cambridge University has found a way to treat dogs paralysis by implanting them with cells taken from the lining of their nose.
Scientists believe this technique could eventually be developed so as to be used in human treatment.
The study consisted of an experiment conducted on 34 paralyzed dogs. While 23 of the dogs were injected with cells taken from the lining of their nose and grown in the laboratory for several weeks, the others were given a pure, harmless liquid.
Most of the nose cells injected dogs regained use of their back legs, while none of the others did, Business Line reports.
The mechanism through which the recovery is made possible is based on the injected cells' ability to recondition the nerve fibers encircling the affected portion of the spinal cord.
With the nerve fibers regenerated, the dogs regain the control over their back legs along with the ability to connect these moves with those of their frontal extremities.
“Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement,” said Professor Robin Franklin, a biologist at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute and co-author of the study.
The English scientists' achievements are novel in this field and yet rudimentary.
“This procedure has enabled an injured dog to step with its hind legs, but the much harder range of higher functions lost in spinal cord injury - hand function, bladder function, temperature regulation, for example - are yet more complicated and still a long way away,” declared Geoffrey Raisman, professor of Neural Regeneration at University College London.
However, there is hope that the technique could be improved to a level where to help reverse human paralysis.
“We’re confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries but that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function,” Prof. Franklin said.