This is work that Neurology and Neuroscience Professors Kocsis and Waxman have been exploring with others for decades. It has been more than two decades since Prof. Kocsis worked on early modified pig cells on spinal injuries in non-human primates, which has led to positive results. Shortly thereafter, he co-authored an article on research into the spinal cord Remyelination and bone marrow stromal cells or MSCsThese papers previewed Kocsis and Waxman was able to accomplish with human subjects. The work done by Yale University and Sapporo Medical University isn’t the only one. For a very long time, researchers have been trying to figure out how stem cells can help treat all kinds of diseases, illnesses, and injuries. Everything from arthritis treatments to chronic heart disease is on the list of potential problems patients face that could be alleviated by stem cell breakthroughs.
New insights into the diversity of spinal cord injuries, therapies, and other treatments have emerged and hold promise in ameliorating some of the kinetic losses experienced by people with spinal injuries. Susan Harkema of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center told LeapsMag in 2018, “The spinal cord has a lot more responsibility for performing movements than we previously thought. Successful movements can be done from the brain without these connections.” The work that researchers like Harkema and others have done in this area of treatment, using physical rehabilitation along with “electrical stimulation”, has produced positive results that were considered unlikely a decade ago.
Even in the earliest stages, research gives hope at every stage of the process. There are scientists working to find new and safer ways to self-treat the initial injuries so that a better prognosis is made for the injured person. In addition to working with stem cells and looking for ways to regrow lost nerves and connections using the patient’s own body to find solutions, there was exciting (albeit early) evidence that gene therapies may also be treatments for lost connections between The spinal cord can offer the brain and the brain. Neurotechnology has become a field of innovation that promises relief and exercise for patients who otherwise would not have it. And, as with any problem that needs to be solved, research into why the body reacts the way it reacts to spinal cord injuries continues to be imperative and so will continue.
The news comes from Yale University and Sapporo Medical University is not the definitive answer. This is one of the steps forward in turning what was once considered fatal into something potentially treatable, and shows the promise of exponentially better treatments. The research and breakthroughs in the service of patients with spinal cord injuries will have wide-ranging applications to all kinds of other neurodegenerative problems that humans face. The pursuit of scientific discovery works like this: you solve a problem or not, and then someone on the street realizes that a solution or a perceived mistake can be applied to something new and exciting that helps in ways that were once upon a time was held unimaginable.