Every day, researchers are working hard to develop new therapies and treatments designed to treat symptoms, slow progression, and repair damage to the spinal cord. One of these treatments involves the use of stem cells.
Supporters and Detractors of Stem Cell Research
Because stem cells may have the potential to generate cells designed to replace or repair cells damaged by spinal cord injury, supporters feel it’s possible the benefits may far outweigh the negatives. Detractors of stem cell research focus on the moral and ethical dilemmas related to the fact that stem cells are harvested from embryos and fetal tissue. As a matter of fact, it’s difficult to turn on the television, flip through a magazine, or read the newspaper without encountering the controversy surrounding stem cell research and treatment.
The New Miracle Cure?
The jury is still out regarding whether stem cell treatment could be the miracle cure for spinal cord injury and paralysis. While scientists and researchers are hopeful, there just hasn’t been enough research to substantiate any particular result. Currently, most of the research on stem cells has been done on mice, which have significantly different cells than humans.
The political and moral debate surrounding stem cells continues to hamper research. There are also some legitimate concerns regarding the safety of stem cell research on human patients, including concerns related to the immune response to a cellular transplant. The biomedical company Geron received the green light to conduct the first human clinical trial of the treatment of spinal cord injury with embryonic stem cell transplants and drug therapy earlier in the year, but the process was recently halted by the FDA for unknown reasons.