CHENNAI: In a unique initiative, the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) has helped a six-month old paraplegic boxer dog recover, by embedding bone marrow stem cells in the injured area. The cells were embedded after engrafting a hydrogel scaffold, said to be used for the first time for this purpose. Rambo, which was admitted with Grade IV paraplegia with total loss of motor and sensory functions of the hind limbs, walked satisfactorily in 133 days after the implant.
The initiative was conducted jointly with the Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Chennai, and a thermo reversible gelation polymer used as a scaffold. This scaffold allowed stem cells to grow in an undifferentiated manner for a longer period than conventional scaffolds, Dr B Justin William, professor of the Madras Veterinary College, told reporters on Monday.
The dog had a traumatic spinal cord injury at the level of T 12 following a road accident, and was functionally recovered by the transplantation of the dog’s bone marrow mono nuclear cells, seeded on the gelation polymer. The first signs of recovery of motor functions were noticed on the 53rd day after surgery, and the animal could walk satisfactorily in 133 days post-surgery.
If extended to humans, these scaffolds can help the healing process of spinal cord-injured patients in a big way, said Dr JKBC Parthiban, president of Neuro Spinal Surgeons Association, and consultant neuro surgeon at Global Hospitals. “We are looking hard at improving the status of patients with spinal cord injuries. By using a scaffold, we can ensure that the embedded stem cells do not migrate or dissolve,” he said.
“The university will offer postgraduate diploma in regenerative medicine from next year, with guest faculty from universities abroad,” said Dr R Prabhakaran, vice chancellor of TANUVAS.