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Chennai Friday 18th January 2008

Stem cell treatment for spinal injury

NEW THERAPY: K.G. Hospital Chairman G. Bakthavathsalam (left) with P. Amudha who is recovering at K.G. Hospital after the stem cell treatment.

COIMBATORE: After trying out stem cell treatment for a heart patient, the city-based K.G. Hospital has begun a similar treatment for a woman with a spinal cord injury.

P. Amudha, aged 38, sustained a spinal cord injury following a road traffic accident. She was travelling on Avanashi Road as a pillion rider with her son.

Her sari got caught in the rear wheel and she fell on the road. This resulted in a serious injury to her neck. Immediately, she had lost her power and balance and got paralysed below the neck. There was also no movement in the limbs.

In a road traffic accident, when the back bone breaks (vertebral column) and the spinal cord, which is situated deep inside the vertebral column, gets injured, it becomes a hopeless situation for the patients, according to Chairman of the hospital G. Bakthavathsalam.

If the cervical spine (neck) gets injured, all the four limbs get paralysed. This is called quadriplegia. When the spinal bone breaks in the lumbar region (back) and injures the cord, the legs get paralysed (paraplegia).

Dr. Bakthavathsalam said in the release that after a doctor at Avanashi provided good first aid, Ms. Amudha was referred to K.G. Hospital for treatment. In fact, she was treated at the hospital for a brain injury 12 years ago.

After the recent accident, doctors found that she could not move her limbs. There was no sensation below the neck. She also could not control her urination and sense her bowel movements. Scanning confirmed she had a cervical spine injury.

Neck bones

The neck bones were stabilised using metal plates and screws. Led by Dr. Bakthavathsalam, neurosurgeons M. Natarajan and N. Sridevi carried out the procedure in which stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow were injected into her.

The hospital had sent the bone marrow to the Nichi-in Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Chennai.

The stem cells were separated there and sent back to the hospital for being injected into the patient.

The hospital said that the patient was recovering and that it would take four to six weeks for the treatment to show results.

The stem cells taken from the patient had shown that there was no immunological rejection. The stem cells were neuro-progenitor cells which got converted into spinal cord neurons.

Stem cell therapy could be defined as part of a group of new techniques that relied on replacing diseased or dysfunctional cells with healthy, functioning ones.

These new techniques were being applied to a wide range of human disorders, including many types of cancer, neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries and diabetes.

If this treatment modality succeeded, it would help thousands of patients all over the world, the release said.

- Courtesy The Hindu ,18th January 2008 issue.
*"Nichi" stands for Japan and "In" stands for India. This institute started on an Indo-Japan collaboration now has spreaded further with global alliances
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