Bioethics News

Spinal cord regeneration – a step forward

Spinal cord regeneration. There is a casuistry in each patient who suffers a spinal cord injury, because a combined therapy that is successful in one patient is not transferrable to the rest.

This week, both the national and international press have reported on an article in medical journal Cell Transplantation (CT-1239 Cell Transplantation Early Epub), which published the outcome of a clinical trial where it was shown that a 38-year-old Bulgarian man whose spinal cord was severed after being stabbed in the back could now walk again with the aid of a walker only.

While this is undoubtedly encouraging news, we must be cautious in its regarding.

Spinal cord injury is a condition that very dramatically disrupts not only the life of the person, whether suffered congenitally or suddenly, but that of his or her family and friends who witness firsthand the difficulties experienced by the person not only in the physical environment, but also psychological and even social difficulties. For this reason, any news related with spinal cord injury always generates great social impact that can lead us to prematurely think that “it’s cured at last”.

We must be cautious and investigate a little further. When a spinal injury occurs, it causes an interruption in the communication pathway between the muscles and the brain, so that the information sent by the brain to produce a movement is interrupted as if it were an electrical connection. This particular case reported the results of a treatment applied to a single patient, combining transplant of nerve tissue from the ankle with cells from the olfactory ensheathing glia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.