Paralyzed dogs were able to walk again, thanks to a research at University of Cambridge. Researchers used cells from the dogs' nose to repair spinal cord injuries in dogs that couldn't use their hind legs.
The study included 34 injured dogs. Of these 34 pets, 23 received cells to their injury site while the rest were given a neutral fluid. The cells used in the study are called olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) and were taken out of the dogs' own noses. These cells help nerve fibers grow to maintain a communication pathway between the nose and the brain, reports Cambridge news.
"Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement," said Professor Robin Franklin, director of research at the department of veterinary medicine, University of Cambridge.
Dogs' ability to walk was tested using a treadmill. Researchers found that, dogs who received the OECs were able to better co-ordinate their hind legs.
So successful was the treatment than a once paralyzed dachshund, Jasper, was said to be "whizzing around the house".
"Before the trial, Jasper was unable to walk at all. When we took him out we used a sling for his back legs so that he could exercise the front ones. It was heartbreaking. But now we can't stop him whizzing round the house and he can even keep up with the two other dogs we own. It's utterly magic," said Mrs May Hay, Jasper's owner, reports The Huffington Post.
Not a Cure for Paralysis
However, researchers say that the nerve connections were made only over short distances within the spinal cord. The use of the treatment for helping paralyzed people walk again may take many years to develop and test. "We're confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries, but that's a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function," Franklin said.
"It's more likely that this procedure might one day be used as part of a combination of treatments, alongside drug and physical therapies, for example."
Published by Medicaldaily.com