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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 5:20 EDT

Miracle Of Modern Science – Cells From A Dog’s Nose Help Him Walk Again

November 19, 2012
Image Credit: Photos.com

[ Watch the Video: Dog Has Spinal Cord Regeneration ]

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

More than just Man´s Best Friend, dogs also have incredible little wet noses. It´s widely believed that a dog´s sense of smell is 1,000 times better than a humans, thanks to hundreds of millions of olfactory receptors. While the smelling sense of a dog has been widely reported and is very well known, the canine nose may be even more powerful than we once thought, even capable of reversing paralysis.

Professors from the Cambridge University have now been able to take cells from a dog´s nose and use them to repair a dog´s broken spinal cord.

One such dog is named Jasper, a dachshund who has been unable to walk since 2008 after he suffered a severe spinal cord injury. While studies have been conducted before to use the snout cells to regenerate a spinal cord, Jasper is one of the first animals outside of a laboratory to receive this treatment.

The Cambridge University team extracted the olfactory ensheathing cells from the lining of Jasper´s nose, then gave them a few weeks to grow and expand in a lab. The results are astonishing: six months after Jasper was injected with his own cells, he was able to walk at a fair clip on a treadmill with very few missteps. His owner has even said he´s ben “whizzing around” the house since the procedure.

“Before the trial, Jasper was unable to walk at all. When we took him out we used a sling for his back legs so that he could exercise the front ones. It was heartbreaking. But now we can’t stop him whizzing round the house and he can even keep up with the two other dogs we own,” said Mrs May Hay from Cambridge, Jasper´s owner, speaking to the Huffington Post. “It´s utterly magic.”

Jasper was joined by 33 other paralyzed dogs in this trial. The Cambridge team injected 23 of the 34 dogs with cells from their nose, injecting the remaining 11 with a neutral fluid as a control. In the weeks and months following the injection, many of those dogs injected with their own cells showed significant improvement and were able to walk on a treadmill with the help of a harness.

None of the 11 dogs who were injected with a neutral fluid regained the use of their legs. Professor Geoffrey Raisman discovered the olfactory ensheathing cells in 1985 and suspected that they could one day be used to repair a damaged spinal cord. With this successful test, Professor Raisman now suggests these cells could one day be used to restore spinal cords in humans.

“This is not a cure for spinal cord injury in humans – that could still be a long way off. But this is the most encouraging advance for some years and is a significant step on the road towards it,” said Raisman in a press statement.

Though these tests may be an advancement in this type of research, Raisman is cautiously optimistic, saying the clinical benefits of this treatment are still limited.

“That is encouraging for application in human injuries. But from a clinical perspective, the benefits are still limited at this stage. This procedure has enabled an injured dog to step with its hind legs, but the much harder range of higher functions lost in spinal cord injury – hand function, bladder function, temperature regulation, for example – are yet more complicated and still a long way away.”

For now, Jasper is able to run around his house, something he´s been unable to do for many years. This, in and of itself, is a testament to the miracle of modern science.


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online