Paralyzed Dog Walks Again in Experiment that May Help Humans

A medical breakthrough performed on 34 dogs with paralyzed hind legs at Cambridge University has researchers excited about the prospects curing paralysis in human patients. Cells were taken from the dogs’ noses, cultured them for three to five weeks, and then injected the cells into the dogs’s spines. These olfactory ensheathing cells have been the focus of intense study for years because of the way they support nerve fiber growth that maintains a pathway between the nose and the brain.

Let’s be clear: the dogs in the study did not regain the ability to walk as if they’d never been injured. But the cell transplant did restore considerable mobility, as the video above attests. And researchers are not certain exactly how that was accomplished. So, for now, these experiemnts point to a promising future, without suggesting that a cure is immanent. But watching Jasper go from dragging his hind legs to practically trotting is a remarkable and hopeful sight.

“For those dogs that had the cells, something about having those cells in their spinal cord made them walk better, a little better, but not as if they were never injured,” said spinal cord injury researcher Naomi Kleitman, vice president of research at the Craig H. Nielsen Foundation, who was not involved in the study. “It’s a phenomenon, and we need to learn more about how this can happen.”

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Before the experimental surgery, Jasper was confined to a trolley because his
paralyzed hind legs didn’t work at all.

photo courtesy

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