A few months ago the news of a man paralyzed from his chest to his feet, and is now able to walk again thanks to a cell transplant in his spinal cord using cells extracted from his nasal cavity, was brought to light.

The patient, Darek Fidyka, a polish police officer who in 2010 was left paralyzed after an aggression with a weapon, has been able to walk again after undergoing a new olfactory cell transplant therapy carried out by a team of neurosurgeons in the United Kingdom.

This new treatment wouldn’t have been possible without the discovery made by investigator Almudena Ramón Cueto, coordinator and in charge of (CIMERM) The medical spinal cord regeneration innovation center, who has now seated herself in the IMED Elche Hospital, where she has been operating from since the end of last year.

CIMERM and IMED Hospitals

CIMERM is located in IMED Elche Hospital, which has specific services for radiology, neurophysiology, surgery and the recently opened white room. The hospital environment permits CIMERM to be able to use the instalations and the medical staff necessary to develop their work.

About the therapy for spinal cord regeneration

The therapy developed by Ramón goes even further than just a olfactory ensheathing glia transplantation. It consists of up to four phases, based on the investigations carried out over the years in CSIC and the collaboration with the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

”First we study which functions have been lost, which fibres have been damaged and in which state each person is in”, explains the doctor. This is the multisystem diagnostic phase, consists of neurophisiology, radiology and psychological tests.

From here, the team designs a totally individual therapy for each patient called (TAM) Medular Activation Therapy. This therapy is aimed at recuperating the movility of the undamaged cells from the spinal injury.

The next phase, called Medular Regeneration Therapy (TRM), is started when the TAM therapy comes to a stop. The first step in this phase would be to evaluate which are the specific zones that the spinal cord needs the ensheating glia injected in to. The cells are obtained from the patient, through a simple surgical extraction. The cells are then transported in a sterile tube to a white room where the glia is purified.

The fourth and last phase consists in the reinnervation and stabilization to help to regenerate the cord. It encourages the reconnection of the nerve fibers damaged by the spinal injury, activating its function and to stabilize and integrate the functions recovered with those of the rest of the body.

Patients have already started to apply Medular Regeneration Therapy

The team has already started to apply the therapy to its first patient: a seven year old boy who in less than four months has recuperated the mobility in his neck and shoulders and can now breathe without being connected to a machine. Five more people are to start TRM very soon, after exceeding the initial diagnostical phase.