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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 121-126

Stem cell therapy in spinal cord injury: Hollow promise or promising science?

4th year Medical Student, University College London, London, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Aimee Goel
12a Clevedon Mansions, Lissenden Gardens, London NW5 1QN
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-8237.181880

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) remains one of the most physically, psychologically and socially debilitating conditions worldwide. While rehabilitation measures may help limit disability to some extent, there is no effective primary treatment yet available. The efficacy of stem cells as a primary therapeutic option in spinal cord injury is currently an area under much scrutiny and debate. Several laboratory and some primary clinical studies into the use of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells or embryonic stem cell-derived oligodentrocyte precursor cells have shown some promising results in terms of remyelination and regeneration of damaged spinal nerve tracts. More recently,laboratory and early clinical experiments into the use of Olfactory Ensheathing Cells, a type of glial cell derived from olfactory bulb and mucosa have provided some phenomenal preliminary evidence as to their neuroregenerative and neural bridging capacity. This report compares and evaluates some current research into selected forms of embryonic and mesenchymal stem cell therapy as well as olfactory ensheathing cell therapy in SCI, and also highlights some legal and ethical issues surrounding their use. While early results shows promise, more rigorous large scaleclinical trials are needed to shed light on the safety, efficacy and long term viability of stem cell and cellular transplant techniques in SCI.

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