21-year old Kris Bosen of Bakersfield, California was the first human to be cured of paralysis thanks to stem cell therapy.
Bosen was in a terrible car accident when he was younger that left him permanently paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors told him that he would never be able to move again because there were no treatments for his condition. However, breakthroughs in“Experimental Stem Cell Therapy” have made it possible for him to move again.
Charles Liu, director of the USC Neurorestoration Center, led the surgical team that worked on Bosen. Bosen was injected an experimental dose of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. The dose was shot directly into Boesen’s cervical spinal cord.
“Typically, spinal cord injury patients undergo surgery that stabilizes the spine but generally does very little to restore motor or sensory function. With this study, we are testing a procedure that may improve neurological function, which could mean the difference between being permanently paralyzed and being able to use one’s arms and hands. Restoring that level of function could significantly improve the daily lives of patients with severe spinal injuries,” Liu explained.
Bosen received the treatment in April of 2016 and has shown remarkable recovery during rehabilitation. As he recovered, Bosen regained feeling in his arms and hands after just two weeks. After just three months he was able to feed himself and use a cell phone.
“As of 90 days post-treatment, Kris has gained significant improvement in his motor function, up to two spinal cord levels. In Kris’ case, two spinal cord levels mean the difference between using your hands to brush your teeth, operate a computer or do other things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, so having this level of functional independence cannot be overstated,” Liu told USC news.
Bosen’s story has given others with paralysis hope that they can be cured too.
“All I’ve wanted from the beginning was a fighting chance…But if there’s an opportunity for me to walk again, then heck yeah! I want to do anything possible to do that,” Bosen says.
Geoffrey Craigie of Grand Rapids, Michigan, suffered a traumatic spine injury on New Year’s Eve in 2017 that paralyzed him from the neck down.
Last year, Craigie was selected to be one of ten people to take part in the Mayo Clinic’s first-ever stem cell therapy for people with a traumatic spinal cord injury. Craigie received his first injection just a few weeks ago, and he says that he can already feel the sensations coming back to him.
“I can feel to like the middle of my chest. So far so good, it’s pretty exciting,” Craigie told WZZM.
“You know, when I got hurt I was in a pretty dark place, depressed, thinking this is the end of the world type of thing. It really isn’t, there’s a lot of support out there for people like me,” he added.
Stem cell therapy has also been helping dogs and other paralyzed pets to walk.
A study conducted this year at the University of Minnesota Medical School proved that spinal cord stimulation using stem cells does cure paralysis in many circumstances.
However, there is still some controversy surrounding stem cell treatment in general. According to recent reports published last month, a “miraculous” stem cell treatment has sickened people in at least five states. In the past year, at least 17 people were hospitalized after being injected with products made from umbilical cord blood, a new technique that is being used many on the fringes of the stem cell industry. Most of the cases of illness seem to be generating from the same facility.
The Washington Post reported that all but two of the illnesses have been linked to a single company:
Liveyon of Yorba Linda, California. The California company is currently facing a series of lawsuits from patients in Texas and Maine after one of their treatments allegedly infected the patients with bacteria. In December, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report pointing to 12 different cases across the country where treatments sold by the company made patients sick. However, it is important to remember that this is one fringe company in an industry that is giving many people a new hope.