19 Jan 2011

Clinical trials approved for treating spinal injuries

5:08 pm on 19 January 2011

Researchers in Dunedin have been given permission to treat spinal injuries with tissue from the nose.

A Ministry of Health ethics committee has approved a clinical trial, which will be carried out by Otago Medical School.

Haematologist Jim Faed says six patients will have cells taken from their nose and implanted in their spinal cord.

He hopes the regenerating cells will help restore some sensation and muscle function.

The ethics committee has declined the trial several times in the past four years because of concerns linked with stem cells.

Dr Faed says similar trials have been conducted in Portugal, however the Otago project will feature more rigorous testing.

He says the project is a tissue transplantation trial, not a stem cell trial, and hopes tests can begin in the next few months.

The Spinal Cord Society is delighted there is to be new research into repairing spinal injuries.

President Noela Vallis says the society would like to see a trial using adult stem cells if the experiment using nose tissue is successful.