Paralysed Aussies could walk again

 

Exclusive: Paralysed Australians could walk again in a breakthrough that will see them treated with nasal cells to rebuild their nerves.

The first stage of a revolutionary clinical trial will begin in February in the Making Strides rehabilitation gym on the Gold Coast after it received $450,000 in funding from the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation (PCSRF).

Five participants will undergo an intensive 16 week training program to test if they are fit enough to handle the treatment and the rehabilitation required before the transplants begin.

The Spinal Injury Project at Griffith University is working on a cure for paralysis which will transplant cells from a patient's nose into their spinal cord injury site to build a bridge across the injury back to the brain.

 

Darek Fidyka walking with the assistance of parallel bars and leg braces at the Akron Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre in Poland. Picture BBC
Darek Fidyka walking with the assistance of parallel bars and leg braces at the Akron Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre in Poland. Picture BBC

 

The research has produced positive results in hundreds of mice some of who have regained felling in paralysed limbs as well as the ability to move.

"In some animals we get good recovery of the ability to move their limbs and motor recovery, so some can regain the ability to walk gain, even to grasp, to grab," lead researcher Associate Professor Dr James St John told News Corp.

"There's some great videos of mice who can hold on upside down in a cage with their hind limbs and they couldn't do that if they were paralysed," he said.

"In other mice, if we're treating for the sensory pathways if we touched their tail or their hind legs, they can feel it, they retract their legs and they've got motor function too so that's also very exciting."

Some people with paralysis have regained the ability to walk after similar treatments in Poland, Portugal and the US but it does not work in everybody and there have been serious adverse events including tumour growths.

 

Dad of two Mick Chisholm became a paraplegic after a motocross accident.
Dad of two Mick Chisholm became a paraplegic after a motocross accident.

 

Professor St John said the difference with the Australian treatment was "we make sure we have exactly the right type of cells".

"In our animal studies we have had no adverse events due to the cell transplantation and not a single animal has shown tumour growth or inappropriate cell growth," he said.

Fifteen thousand Australians have a spinal cord injury that prevents them from walking and Associate Professor St John said the chance to have a real impact on people in the community is "what we're here for".

"I'm excited but nervous. I desperately want it to work. A lot of people are putting hope into this," he said.

Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation Executive President Perry Cross said his organisation was now committed to raising a further $916,000 to fund the addition of 10 more participants to the Intensive Rehabilitation Trial.

 

Mick Chisholm says he wants to be the first person in the trial. Picture Nigel Hallett
Mick Chisholm says he wants to be the first person in the trial. Picture Nigel Hallett

Mike Chisolm's life changed three years ago when a motocross riding accident left him paralysed.

The 47-year-old father of two, who regularly works out in the Making Strides rehabilitation gym that will be used in the clinical trial, said he would put his hand up to take part.

"I'd like to be the first person in the trial," he said.

"I don't want to be disrespectful but I want to prove people wrong that say there can't be regeneration of the spinal cord."

Mr Chisolm said his goal in life was to walk his 18-year-old daughter Bree down the aisle when she gets married.

"I'm not rolling down next to her. I will be walking down there one way or the other. I don't care if I use a robot suit, but I will be walking down next to her so that's my goal," he said.

 

 

Originally published as Paralysed Aussies could walk again


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