Following are the main areas of research in paralysis treatment:
cells are immature cells that grow into the specialised cells that comprise
the body's tissue. The aim is to coax these cells into becoming nerve
cells to replenish those damaged in spinal injury.
Hopes were battered in 2011 when Geron, a California-based pioneer,
abandoned the field, citing high costs.
Prospects have revived with Newark-based company StemCells Inc., which implants
stem cells obtained from donated foetal brain tissue.
In 2012, the company said two trial patients recovered feeling in some parts
of the body. Results from another eight patients are expected this year, and
the trial to be widened.
Another firm, Neuralstem in Maryland, received approval from the US Food and
Drug Administration for a Phase I stem cell trial.
In February, scientists in Massachusetts said they had demonstrated how a
monkey can use only its thoughts, transferred by electrodes via a computer, to
manipulate the arm of a fully-sedated fellow primate.
In May 2012, collaboration between researchers in the United States and the
German Aerospace Centre enabled a paralysed woman to lift a drink to her lips
with a thought-controlled
Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina said in October 2011 they
had enabled a monkey to move a virtual object with its mind, and crucially,
sense the texture thereof.
Epidural electric stimulation
In 2011, electrodes implanted on the lower spine of a paraplegic man allowed
him to stand and regain some movement in his legs, in a study led by the
University of Louisville's Spinal Cord Research Centre in Kentucky.
Other tests have repeated the feat in patients of whom some recovered
bladder, bowel and sexual function.
A research area still in its infancy, this involves using enzymes
to break down scar tissue that accumulates around the point of spinal
injury to unblock and enable a remapping of the nerve circuit.
The enzyme chondroitinase has shown promise in lab tests, but has yet to be
tested in clinical trials.
Scientists are also working on drugs that will be administered directly
after a spinal injury to limit the spread of cell death and inflammation that
causes scarring and robs the patient of tissue that can potentially be repaired
Fish oils are among the potential protectants being investigated, but no
drugs have yet been approved.
surgery may benefit some patients with facial paralysis
stem cell trial halted