Stem cell and PRP therapies have been injecting waves of hope into sufferers of diseases and chronic pain.
Now, we can add curing spina bifida to the list. Scientists have been searching for a cure to the rare medical condition via experimentation on adorable test subjects: English bulldogs.
Spina bifida is a birth defect where spinal tissue improperly fuses in utero, causing an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes surrounding the spinal cord. Afflicting approximately 2000 U.S.-born infants annually, the rare disease comes with a range of cognitive, mobility, urinary, and bowel disabilities.
A pair of English bulldogs named Darla and Spanky, born with spina bifida, were the four-legged benefactors of a veterinary and medical super-team's ambition to advance stem cell research.
Most dogs with the birth defect have no control over their hindquarters, and are euthanized as puppies. But at 10-weeks-old, the canines were treated with a surgery (pioneered by Diana Farmer M.D.) that improves brain development in human children with spinal bifida.
The procedure was combined with human placenta-derived mesenchymal stromal cells; multipotent, spindle shaped plastic-adherent cells, that can differentiate into a variety of cells. The stromal cells were held in place by a cellular scaffold.
The bulldogs had a follow-up at four-months-old, and showed vastly improved control over their hind quarters; namely, an ability to run and play.
The next step is to see if the treatment improves the dogs' incontinence, another hallmark of spinal bifida. While the dogs' range of motion and mobility issues have shown tremendous progress, they still require diapers.
Interestingly, humans would be treated in utero, whereas veterinarians are unable to diagnose dogs with S.B. in the womb. Pending the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is a push to test the therapy on humans.
Those suffering from spina bifida often require braces, crutches, or wheelchairs, while also managing bladder and bowel dysfunctions. If the research proves fruitful, it could prevent the years of therapy and surgeries needed to combat the ongoing complications of the condition.
The advancements in stem-cell therapy research continue to blow us away. We may not be in the business of trying to treat incurable diseases, but we fully endorse the effort!
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|Tags: Treatment Options Stem Cell Research|