Paralyzed Man Regains Use of Arms and Hands with Experimental Stem Cell Therapy
Kristopher Boesen, a 20-year old native of Bakersfield suffered a cervical spine injury on March 6, which would have incapacitated him and paralyzed his body from the neck down.
Doctors told Kris’ parents that the likelihood that the damage would be permanent is high, but then they offered experimental treatment via stem cell therapy.
USC Neurostation Center director Charles Liu, in collaboration with Keck Medicine and Rancho Los Amigos Rehab Center, got the okay sign and injected a dose that contained ten million AST-OPC1 cells into Boesen’s spinal cord. This was in early April.
Liu explains that patients who get treated for spinal cord injury are limited only to keeping the spine stabilized and not to restore sensory or motor functions. With the experimental treatment, Liu and his team are looking into improving neurological function that can restore arm and hand movements, which could also affect the patient’s quality of life.
Just two weeks after the surgery took place, Boesen began to respond. In three months, he’s able to control a motorized wheelchair, write his name, use his cellphone and feed himself. Liu reported that after 90 days, Kris has regained some of his motor functions up to two spinal cord levels, which means that the patient now has the ability to brush his teeth, operate a computer or a smartphone and being able to function independently.
All Kris wanted was a fighting chance. He stated that if there was a possibility that he could walk again, he’d try it. Doctors are optimistic about Boesen’s progress but they’re cautious about predicting it.
The Window Of Qualification
In spine injuries, the window for surgery is tight, which means that if Boesen wanted to qualify for the experimental study everything had to go as planned.
When Kris gave his consent, rehab specialists, doctors and nurses started working. First, he would have to provide consent by vocal means, which meant that he had to be taken off a breathing ventilator. With the help of a professional respiratory team Kris was able to achieve the feat in just 5 days. After the paperwork was signed he had to undergo a series of scans, pre-surgery tests and other assessments.
In April, ten million AST-OPC1 stem cells were injected into Boesen’s cervical spine. After 6 weeks Kris was discharged and returned home. His progress was reviewed in 7, 30, 60 and 90 days, after which he will be evaluated after 180, 270 and 365 days.
Kris’ parents are amazed at the collaborative work between the specialists and health care providers. Boesen’s father stated how there were many things that needed to be completed before his son would be allowed to undergo the experimental treatment. Furthermore, he was touched that their son received world-class care from the start up until the present.
Details Of The Study
The experimental stem cell treatment is the latest in the medical industry’s effort to improve the lives of patients who have or are currently suffering from severe spinal cord injury.
The procedure is a part of Phase 1/2a trial that evaluates the potency and safety of AST-OPC1 cells that was created by Asterias Biotherapeutics, a California-based company. ASP-OPC1 comes from embryonic stem cells that were converted into OPCs, or oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, the same ones that could be found in the spinal cord and brain.
In previous laboratory tests, ASP-OC1 cells were able to induce remyelination, stimulate vascularization and produce neuropathic factors of denuded axons, which are all important factors in conduction, regrowth and survival of nerve impulses via axons found at the injured site.
Asterias Chief Medical Director and Lead Investigator Edward Wirth III states that the ten million count in cell level is the magic number that gave the team results during the pre-clinical trials. The company is cautiously optimistic and strive to put safety above all else while checking how the stem cells could restore movement in injured patients.
Individuals aged between 18 to 69 may qualify for the trial. They must have a stable condition to receive the AST-OPC1 injection anywhere from the 14th to the 30th day after a spinal cord injury. Keck Medical Center is just 1 of 6 sites in the US authorized to administer the experimental treatment.
To your health,
The Healing Miracle Team
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