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Can Olfactory Ensheathing Cells (OECs) Be Used for Spinal Cord Injuries? If So, What Are Implications for Spinal Cord Accident Victims?

spinal cord injuriesA new research paper by Jenny A.K. Ekberg and James A. St. John from Australia offers hope to those paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries. Olfactory Ensheathing Cells for Spinal Cord Repair: Crucial Differences Between Subpopulations of the Glia, published on October 7, 2015, in the online journal, Neural Regeneration Research, analyzes the possibility of transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) into the spinal cord injury site as a way to restore sensation and movement. This complex theory holds promise for those paralyzed in accidents.

What Are OECs and How Can They Spinal Cord Injuries?

Per the researchers, “the olfactory nervous system constantly regenerates throughout life.” OECs interact with portions of the central nervous system and promote axon growth. Axons are part of a nerve cell “along which impulses are conducted from the cell body to other cells.” When the spinal cord is injured, the inflammation and scar tissue that develop make it impossible for the axons in the spinal cord to regenerate and develop. Researchers theorize that since OECs promote axon growth, if they are transplanted directly into the actual injury site, they will facilitate axon growth around the injury, which will in turn repair the injury and restore sensation and motor skills.

This type of spinal cord injury repair has been successful when used on rats. Clinical trials on humans have been limited. One paralyzed man did regain some function after an OEC transplant. In another trial, patients recovered some sensory and motor function after transplant.

One problem is that there are “subpopulations” of OECs. According to the research report, “While the different subpopulations of OECs each have potentially favorable characteristics, it is not yet certain which subpopulation is most effective for repairing the injured spinal cord.” The researchers are optimistic about the future of OEC transplantation as a means of repairing spinal cord injuries and restoring at least some function to paralyzed patients. They hope that more detailed scientific analysis of OECs and their subpopulations can resolve these and related questions and pave the way for actionable therapies for spinal injury patients.

Whether a truck collided with your SUV on a wet highway, or you lost control of your motorcycle, skidded out and landed hard on the side of the road, you may need legal insight into your spinal injury accident as well as medical care. Please call our Denver spinal cord injury lawyers for a free consultation about how to obtain fair compensation in your case.

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