Kris Boesen, 21, received a serious spinal injury in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors said he would never have limb mobility again, but scientists at the University of Southern California have returned his arm and hand mobility using experimental stem cell therapy.
Chris took part of the clinical trial of a new treatment using ACT-OPC1 – a preparation consisting of oligodendrocyte predecessor cells (OPCs), which are derived from embryonic stem cells. OPCs are myelin cells in the brain and spinal cord that help nerve cells function.
Preclinical testing of AST-OPC1 on models of damaged spinal cord showed that the drug results in reducing the size of the cavity injuries, restoring the myelin coating of nerve cells and stimulating the growth of nerve cells and blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the site of injury.
In April 2016, Chris received an injection of ACT-OPC1: 10 million cells inserted directly to the cervical spinal cord. Improvements in motor function were observed within the first 2 weeks of treatment, and 3 months later the young man was able to perform a number of everyday tasks, write his name, hug his family, manage a motorized wheelchair, type on a computer, and brush his teeth. The value of such functional independence for paralyzed patients can not be exaggerated.
Researchers do not guarantee Chris will ever use his legs, but they are happy with the results and hope that AST-OPC1 continues to improve the quality of life of patients with spinal cord injury.
Ukraine also has made great achievements in the development and application of advanced stem cell-based technology. With is help Ukrainian biotechnology has grown bone and nerve cells. This technology is used to restore damaged joints and limbs in wounded ATO soldiers, returning them to function and mobility. This technology is available in only a few clinics throughout the world, including Ukraine. Ilaya Medical Company and The People’s Project’s joint Bioengineering Rehabilitation for Wounded project is restoring seriously wounded soldiers and returning them to a normal life.
Currently the collection of funds for the treatment five wounded is underway, and four more are waiting in line to join the project. For them biotechnology offers the only chance of recovery. Since the state, through legislative and other restrictions, does not support biotechnology in the treatment of wounded soldiers, their only hope is to recieve help from people’s donations.