According to CNN, the folks at Johns Hopkins University, led by neurologist Douglas Kerr, now have proof that stem cells can help paralyzed rats walk again. I'm almost certain I'm going to get the science wrong here, but from what I gather the team cultivated embryonic rat stem cells in the lab until they developed neural precursors and then injected them into spinal columns of rats that had been paralyzed. Further, Science Magazine is reporting that about 11-15 rats regained motor skills from the experiments. While human experimentation is definitely in the future, the scientists are quick to point out that paralyzed pigs are next in line to benefit from the procedures (all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others). Of course, the experiments will no doubt bring about even more debate. As stem cell researcher Clive Svendsen said in the Science story, "Of all the stem cells it's really only the embryonic stem cells that can make motor neurons."
These Rats Were Made for Walking
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June 22, 2006 - 01:16am