Paralysis Breakthrough

Brazilian scientists claim they've restored feeling two years after injury

FRIDAY, Nov. 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Brazilian scientists claim they've restored feeling to people who have been paralyzed for at least two years, says a report in Chemistry and Industry magazine.

The scientists harvested stem cells from the blood of 30 people with spinal cord injuries. The stem cells were reintroduced to the patients' bodies by injecting them into the artery supplying blood to the area of spinal cord damage.

After a few months, 12 of the patients responded to electrical stimulation of their paralyzed limbs, the report says.

The claim has raised some eyebrows.

"Nothing like this has been done in humans before, but the worry is that human studies have tended to be unscientific," Sam Pfaff, a professor of molecular biology at the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences, comments in the Chemistry and Industry report.

The Brazilian research may also pose ethical problems.

"Our concern is that stem cells have the potential to keep growing. They may even do more harm than good," Pfaff says.

The Brazilian research is currently being reviewed for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about paralysis.

SOURCE: Society of Chemical Industry, news release, Nov. 17, 2003
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