Newsbeat: Stem Cell Study

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News November 2015

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago are exploring a new therapy using stem cells

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Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago are exploring a new therapy using stem cells to treat spinal-cord injuries (SCI) within the first 14 to 30 days of injury. Rush is only the second center in the country currently studying this new approach.

The therapy uses a population of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells containing progenitor cells that support nerve cells and can potentially make poorly functioning nerves function better.
“This is a new era where we are now able to test whether a dose of stem cells delivered directly to the injured site can have an impact on motor or sensory function,” says Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD, professor of neurological surgery at Rush and principal investigator for the Phase 1 clinical trial involving AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells). “If we could generate even modest improvements in motor or sensory function, it would result in significant improvements in quality of life.”

The clinical trial is designed to assess safety and activity of escalating doses of the special cells for individuals with a complete cervical SCI. As of mid-August, one individual was enrolled in the study.
The trial involves testing three escalating doses of AST-OPC1 in patients with subacute, C-5, C-6 and C-7 neurologically-complete cervical SCI. AST-OPC1 is administered 14 to 30 days post-injury.

For this therapy to work, the cord has to be in continuity and not severed, according to Fessler. The study seeks male and female patients ages 18 to 65 who recently experienced a complete cervical SCI at the neck that resulted in tetraplegia.

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Newsbeat: Stem Cell Study


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