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Stem Cell Therapy Could Provide Hope for Spinal Cord Injury Victims

August 04, 2011

The first FDA study of stem cell research is underway and offers the potential promise of restoring sensation and mobility for spinal cord injury (SCI) victims that have suffered injury in motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents and other serious accidents.

A trial is currently in place to determine whether infusing millions of cells made from human embryonic stem cells into a patient who suffered a serious spinal cord injury (SCI) will restore sensation or mobility. The current experiment began in July of 2010 when the pharmaceutical firm Geron of Menlo Park, Calif., which is sponsoring the study, received FDA approval to conduct the experiment.

The FDA authorized the company to test the stem cell therapy on ten patients. The procedure involves surgeons infusing approximately 2 million "oligodendrocyte progenitor" cells, which were created in the laboratory from embryonic stem cells.

The company hopes that the cells will create a restorative sheath around the spinal cord that will allow SCI victims to recover lost use of their extremities and impaired sensation. There have been hundreds of similar procedures conducted on rats that have been successful in restoring mobility in partially paralyzed rats.

The study testing the restorative ability of stem cells is being conducted on those who have suffered severe traumatic injury to the spinal cord. Timothy Atchison, a 21-year-old nursing student from Alabama, suffered a serious spinal cord injury in an auto collision. While it is too early to determine whether the procedure will yield similar results to those found in studies involving rats, the procedure may one day allow those who suffer serious spinal cord injuries to regain the ability to walk.

Despite the possible benefits of the current research, the experiment is not without critics. Critics fall into two separate groups including those who have moral objections to the procedure and those who generally support stem cell research but are concerned that human experimentation is premature. Some critics oppose stem cell research on moral grounds because harvesting stem cells involves the destruction of embryos.

Critics who support stem cell research generally worry that it is too early for such research. These critics believe that the procedure could be ineffective or cause an adverse result, like the development of a tumor, which might be used to prevent future stem cell experiments. There are also concerns about use of the therapy on spinal cord injuries because victims of such injuries often improve significantly without such treatment, which may make it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy.

At Montlick and Associates, our experienced Atlanta spinal cord injury attorneys have seen the emotional hardship and life-altering impact of such injuries suffered in Atlanta  and Georgia motor vehicle accidents far too frequently. We certainly hope that this new therapy for spinal cord injuries will offer future Georgia auto collision victims hope. If you or your loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for your losses including medical bills, lost past and future income, compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages.

The experienced Atlanta spinal cord injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer these debilitating injuries in Georgia auto collisions for over 39 years. Our Atlanta spinal cord injury attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.