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In Korea, medical science may have
just taken an impressive stride. A woman named Hwang Mi-Soon, who had been paralyzed below the waist from an injury 19 years before the procedure, was treated with an experimental stem cell therapy. Incredibly, she began regaining the ability to move her legs within 7 days, and within 13 days, she was able to maintain an upright position.
The treatment used “adult” umbilical cord stem cells, implanted directly into the woman’s spinal cord. Cautious optimism is advised, because a single success is no promise of future success, but the peer-reviewed findings are very encouraging.
From the article:
Umbilical cord cells are considered “adult stem cells,” in contrast to embryonic stem cells, which have raised ethical concerns because a human embryo must be destroyed in order to harvest them.
The report said motor activity was noticed on day 7, and she was able to maintain an upright position on day 13. Fifteen days after surgery, she began to elevate both lower legs about one centimeter.
The study’s abstract says not only did the patient regain feeling, but 41 days after stem cell transplantation, testing “also showed regeneration of the spinal cord at the injured cite” and below it.
Studies using such adult stem cells are not hindered by US stem cell laws, and treatment such as this will most likely be embraced by the US medical community if it proves viable.
Updated October 6, 2005 at 4:38pm: Apparently the treatment occured a while back, but is only being publicized now that it has appeared in a peer-reviewed publication.