Ground Breaking Treatment Allows Paralyzed Rats To Walk Again, Humans Next

February 19, 2013

Swiss scientists plan to begin human trials after their efforts to help paralyzed rats walk again was an enormous success.

The technology behind the ground breaking treatment involves a cocktails of drugs combined with electrical impulses. Scientists were able to regrow nerves that connect the brain to the spine, allowing the spine to respond. The brain created new connections that bypassed the injury.

After a few weeks, once immobile rats with bruised and injured spinal chords were walking again without assistance. Not only were they walking, the rats were sprinting, dodging obstacles, and climbing stairs.

The first human trials will be conducted in a few months with 5 patients at a Swiss clinic. The individuals selected will have limited leg movement, but will not be completely paralyzed.

According to lead researcher, Grégoire Courtine, he guarantees the treatment is safe for humans, but it will depend on the severity of the damage.

"So it is less ambitious," Courtine said. "But we are talking about improving the quality of life, allowing people to stand and take a few steps at home with a walker."

There is still caution, as a rat's nervous system differs from that of a human. However, the idea that paralyzed people will never walk again might be thrown out the window.

Read the full story here.

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