Paralyzed Man Walks Again, Thanks to His Nose

Researchers install 'nerve bridge' from transplanted olfactory cells
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2014 2:37 PM CDT
Paralyzed Man Walks Again, Thanks to His Nose
File photo.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

After a knife attack, a man was left paralyzed—but thanks to his own nose, he can walk again, with the help of a walker. Darek Fidyka, now 40, had cells from his nose transplanted into his spinal cord, Reuters reports. Doctors working in Poland used nose cells known as olfactory ensheathing cells and olfactory nerve fibroblasts in the procedure, injecting them at the injury site. They also took nerve tissue from Fidyka's ankle and created a "nerve bridge" between broken ends of the spinal column. The nose cells, experts think, helped prompt the regeneration of spinal cord cells around the transplanted nerves, the BBC reports.

He has received 19 months of treatment and has regained much of his independence, reports the Guardian. Now, he can move a little bit and even drive, says a UK charity involved in the project. "We believe ... this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury," says the lead researcher, who calls the result "more impressive than man walking on the moon." He plans to conduct the procedure on several more patients in the next few years. Cell transplants also recently helped blind people see. (More nose stories.)

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