Imagine that you lost control of your vehicle and woke up in a hospital completely paralyzed from your neck down. That’s what happened to Kristopher Boesen, who had experienced a life-changing situation when his car lost control on a slippery road surface, hitting into a lamp post and a tree. The doctors informed Kris’ parents that he may never be able to move from his neck down.
Doctors offered Kris an opportunity to pass through a life-changing procedure with stem cells, which ‘can repair the injured nervous tissue by replacing damaged cells‘. This experimental procedure didn’t guarantee restoration of the paralysis, but he thought it’s worth to take the risk.
The process started in April when Dr. Liu directly injected ten million of AST-OPC1 cells into his cervical spinal cord. (The cells came from donated eggs that were fertilized in vitro). The doctor explains that; “Usually, patients with spinal cord injury undergo a surgical procedure that stabilizes their spine but doesn’t restore their sensory or motor functions. This study aims to test a procedure that can improve the neurological functions, which can make a real difference between permanent paralysis and being able to use the hands. Restoring this level of function can improve the everyday lives of people with serious spinal injuries.”
After just three weeks of this therapy, Kris began showing symptoms of improvement, and in two months he was able to answer his phone, operate the wheelchair and write his own name. He regained a significant amount of his motor functions; which is the transmission of messages from the brain to the muscle groups in order to produce movement.
Kris recovered for about 2 spinal levels which is a huge difference in his ability to move. This difference is being able to function by himself. Kris regained an incredibly important aspect of his independence.
After seeing the amazing results of this stem cell therapy, Kris said; “All I’ve ever wanted from the start was a chance to fight…But if there is a possibility to walk again, then of course yes! I will do anything to be able to achieve that.”
Even though doctors can’t make promises that his condition will additionally improve, they can keep doing experiments with stem cells in order to improve the likelihood of regaining full movement.
They made huge steps towards this goal and hopefully they will continue to do this in their attempts to solve paralysis, by cooperating with ‘associate departments across the KSOM as well as the University in order to study new medicine that is driven by stem cells‘, Dr. Liu and the team from USC are determined to continue researching stem cells!
The Stem cell study is ongoing and can be used in numerous ways other than treating paralysis; from cancer and diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.