Friday, December 02, 2005

A promising cure for paralysis?

Yesterday's Guardian reported about the first surgeries to be performed on people with a certain kind of paralysis -- caused by injuries in motorbike accidents in which "the nerves in the arm are pulled out of the spinal cord". Sarah Boseley, the reporter, says, "until now, such injuries have been inoperable."

The surgery will implant the cells lining the nose [which have the capacity to regenerate] at the site of damage in the spinal cord in the hope that "they would build a bridge across the break, allowing the nerve fibres to knit back together". However, this procedure is still controversial.

Although things were going well, it had not always been easy, [Prof. Geoffrey Raisman] said. "We have been mavericks in this research all my research life. I have never been on the side of the majority view.

"This is not the most popular way of attempting to heal spinal injuries. That would be to produce patented chemicals, which drug companies can make and sell. What we're proposing could be carried out by any very modestly equipped hospital with neurosurgery. There are no patents. It makes it a very unpopular form of research.