A group of paralyzed dogs is walking again—with a little help from a harness—after scientists injected cells from the dogs' noses into the injured portion of their spinal cords. The procedure could eventually help paralyzed humans regain some degree of movement, researchers say, though they caution that such a feat is a long way off. In the experiment, scientists in Britain took olfactory ensheathing cells from the noses of dogs whose back legs were nonfunctional after injury. The olfactory system is the only site where adults continue to develop nerve fibers, the BBC notes.
After growing the removed cells in a lab, the scientists injected them into 23 pet dogs while injecting a neutral control substance into 11 others. The latter group saw no improvement, but many of the 23 transplant dogs were able to walk again, aided by a harness on a treadmill. "We're confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries," says a researcher. "But that's a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function."