The pioneering of Stem Cell Therapy to treat Spinal Injuries

Posted by Injury Lawyers of Ontario on September 18, 2016

Ontario is a world leader in stem cell and regenerative medicine research.  Since 2014, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine has supported scientists and the development of technologies that promise to make stem cell therapy and spinal cord regeneration a reality. According to the Institute, Ontario has a supportive regulatory environment and an advanced clinical infrastructure that has prompted a recent surge in stem cell research. In 2016, eight separate clinical studies are set to begin or have already begun into the use of stem cell therapy to treat various diseases and injuries, including spinal cord injury.

What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the body's master cells and the building blocks that make all of the other cells in our body. Stem cell therapy uses stem cells to cure or reduce diseases and disorders. Stem cells are harvested from a donor and injected into the recipient where they migrate through the bloodstream into the bone marrow and then to the appropriate area of the body. Ideally, stem cells are then grafted by the host successfully.

Stem Cells and Cervical Spinal Cord Damage
Phase one clinical trials have commenced in Toronto to test the effects of human stem cell transplantation on patients with cervical cord damage. Cervical spinal cord trauma accounts for over 70% of all spinal cord injuries. The cervical spinal cord is the upper part of the spine and when damaged, can cause a person to become quadriplegic. A person suffering with quadriplegia does not have the use of any of their four limbs.

The goal of stem cell therapy is to rejuvenate the cells between certain areas of a damaged spinal cord in order to have the patient regain the use of the limbs which have become paralyzed. There is great hope in the use of stem cell therapy on spinal cord injuries because the cervical spinal cord is so delicate and intricate that even a microscopically small rejuvenation of an area may cause a patient to regain the use of both of their arms and hands. Other parts of the lower spine requiring a greater rejuvenation of cells and the positive effects of such stem cell progress may not be readily apparent.

While offering the greatest hope in the area of spinal cord injuries, stem cell research is also showing great promise in treating and potentially curing ailments in other areas of the body where other advancements in medicine have fallen short or stalled. These areas include autoimmune disorders such as SCIDS (severe combined immune disorder), diseases or injuries that affect musculoskeletal functions such as arthritis, as well as conditions affecting the eyes, cardiovascular, neurological and blood systems.

With each phase of testing, from animal studies through the approval from Health Canada, stem cell therapy promises hope to sufferers from heart disease, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis as well as those with cervical spinal cord injuries.

These trials are a very promising development for accident victims and injured persons who are suffering from the impact of a catastrophic injury, such as spinal injury, in the hope that the application of stem cell therapy can soon be used to reduce or eliminate the effects of the injury.


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