Every day in Australia, through spinal cord injury, one life is changed forever.

There are currently approximately 12,000 recorded cases of spinal cord injury in Australia. Each year there are an estimated 300 - 400 new incidents reported. The impacts of spinal cord injury are usually life-long and devastating.

Research into finding a cure for paralysis has been undertaken across the world for decades. There have been many dead ends, many partial discoveries and a lot of hope. But now, the pathway to ending paralysis is illuminated.

The potential answer? Taking a special type of cell from a patient’s olfactory (sense of smell) system, and transplanting it into the spinal cord injury site.

A world first Phase I clinical trial led by scientists at the Eskitis Institute, Griffith University, in 2002 demonstrated that the therapy is safe for use in humans. That trial led to a recent human trial by British/Polish researchers that demonstrated that restoration of function after severing of the human spinal cord is indeed possible. In this study, a mix of olfactory ensheathing cells and fibroblasts together with a nerve bridge were transplanted into the injured spinal cord. Within 6-12 months after transplantation, the patient, who had been paralysed for several years prior to the treatment, regained some motor function of his legs, bladder control, and sensation.

These exciting proof-of-principle results give hope that patients may regain function after spinal cord injury. What is now needed is to improve the transplantation therapy to make it more effective.

In partnership with the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation, the team at Griffith University’s Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery is planning to undertake a clinical trial in 2018 to progress this journey and show that this therapy can further regenerate patients’ sensory and motor function.

The method used has the potential to result in the first real cure for spinal cord injury and will establish Griffith University and the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation as world-leaders in spinal cord injury treatment.

Please contact to learn more.

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