This exciting project involves taking a special type of cell from a patient’s olfactory (sense of smell) system and transplanting it into the spinal cord injury site.
The Spinal Injury Research Project was pioneed by 2017 Australian of the Year Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim.
A world first Phase I clinical trial led by scientists at Griffith University, in 2002 demonstrated that the therapy is safe for use in humans. That trial led to a recent human trial by British/Polish researchers that demonstrated that restoration of function after severing of the human spinal cord is indeed possible. In this study, a mix of olfactory ensheathing cells and fibroblasts together with a nerve bridge were transplanted into the injured spinal cord. Within 6-12 months after transplantation, the patient, who had been paralysed for several years prior to the treatment, regained some motor function of his legs, bladder control, and sensation.
These exciting proof-of-principle results give hope that patients may regain function after spinal cord injury. What is now needed is to improve the transplantation therapy to make it more effective.
In partnership with the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation, the team at Griffith University is planning to undertake a clinical trial to progress this journey and show that this therapy can further regenerate patients’ sensory and motor function.
The clinical trial will involve taking olfactory cells from the own patients nose, the cells will be purified, enhanced and implanted into the patient’s spinal cord, followed by intensive rehabilitation to promote nerve regeneration.
As part of the Spinal Injury Project, there are seven essential components needed for an effective therapy:
To learn more about the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation and the Spinal Injury Project please see the four part video series below:
Part 1. How as Perry injured?
Part 2. Who inspired Perry to find a cure for paralysis?
Part 3. What is the potential cure and who is working on it?
Part 4. SIP recently received a $5M boost from the QLD State Govn - what next?