Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic. Often they cannot be repaired, particularly spinal cord injuries classified as “complete,” meaning there is no movement or feeling below the level of injury. Approximately 12,000 people each year suffer spinal cord injuries in the United States, and an estimated 270,000 people are currently living with these types of injuries. A new therapy is emerging to treat spinal cord injuries and it is showing promise.
The new therapy is being tested on people who have lost all motor and sensory function below the injury site. Patients in the studies are showing motor function improvement at six and nine months following treatment with 10 million AST-OPC1.
Six research centers around the country are currently studying this new therapy. Dr. Richard G. Fessler, professor in the department of neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center, stated that “[w]ith these patients, we are seeing what we believe are meaningful improvements in their ability to use their arms, hands and fingers at six months and nine months following AST-OPC1 administration.”
AST-OPC1 from Asterias Biotherapeutics is derived from stem cell research. AST-OPC1 cells are converted into a type of cell that are found in the brain and spinal cord that support the healthy functioning of nerve cells.
Asterias shares the following: “The AST-OPC1 stem cell lines were derived from an embryo that was originally meant for an in vitro fertilization procedure in the late 1990’s. The embryo was no longer needed by the couple, however, and the embryo was going to be discarded. The couple consented to donate that embryo and the cell line was derived from it. Of note, this cell line was formally approved as “ethically derived” by both the Bush and Obama administrations.”
While this emerging treatment may not offer a complete cure, improved motor function can improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. Asterias plans to report 12 month efficacy for the AST-OPC1 trials in the third quarter of 2017.
If you sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident, contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
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