Swiss doctors with the world’s first
clinical trial using human neural stem cells to treat chronic thoracic spinal
cord injury report that two patients have regained some ability to feel touch
and heat. These results raise hope that the treatment, which was created by
StemCells Inc. and established in pre-clinical testing by Aileen Anderson and
Brian Cummings at UC Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center,
may help restore lost body function for the millions paralyzed by damage to
their spinal cords. Researchers from Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich,
where the patients were treated, presented the data in London at the annual meeting of the
International Spinal Cord Society. The Phase I/II trial reported earlier this year positive safety data from the first
cohort of treated patients and continues to enroll subjects from the U.S.,
Canada and Europe. In July, Anderson and Cummings, in collaboration with
StemCells Inc., received a $20 million award from the California stem cell
research funding agency, CIRM, to develop human clinical trials for cervical
spinal cord injury.