Paralyzed dogs walk again after injections of olfactory sheathing cells

Cambridge University researchers have restored some mobility to paralyzed dogs with the help of cells taken from the dogs’ noses, according to BBC News.

The double-blind study, published in the neurology journal titled Brain, enrolled 34 dogs that all could not use their hind legs due to spinal injuries.

Researchers injected 23 of the dogs with olfactory ensheathing cells removed from the lining of their noses and expanded in the laboratory, while the remaining 11 dogs were injected with a neutral fluid.

Researchers reported that most of the dogs that received cell treatment had mobility restored in their rear legs, and some were able to walk on a treadmill while supported by a harness, BBC News said. The group that was given the placebo treatment did not see any improvement.

Researchers were encouraged by the fact that not only did most of the dogs regain the use of their back legs, but they were able to reestablish coordination between front and back legs.

While researchers were elated by the restoration of leg function for the paralyzed dogs, they still have much work to do when it comes to healing other problems associated with spinal injuries, according to BBC News.

Professor Geoffrey Raisman, chair of Neural Regeneration at University College London, told BBC News, “This procedure has enabled an injured dog to step with its hind legs, but the much harder range of higher functions lost in spinal cord injury - hand function, bladder function, temperature regulation, for example - are yet more complicated and still a long way away.”

Researchers are hopeful humans may someday benefit from the strides being made by the dogs at Cambridge University, according to BBC News.

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