A new stem cell treatment may be effective at reversing paralysis caused by spina bifida in newborn babies.
Spina bifida is a birth defect that affects the spinal cord and can cause paralysis in some children. It affects up to 2,000 babies per year in the United States alone. The new stem cell treatment, in development for the past ten years, proved effective in trial studies with sheep and bulldogs.
“When the baby sheep who received stem cells were born, they were able to stand at birth, and they were able to run around almost normally. It was amazing,” says bioengineer Aijun Wang, PhD.
Thanks to a $9 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the researchers began studying the efficacy of stem cell treatment in humans. So far, three babies have received the treatment. “This experience has been larger than life and has exceeded every expectation,” says the first clinical trial participant, Emily. “This clinical trial could enhance the quality of life for so many patients to come.”