Dear Friends of Team Fight to Walk:
I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for your generous support. Team Fight to Walk holds a somewhat unique place among such organizations. While many groups have come and gone, you have remained steadfast in your support of spinal cord injury research.
Because of your commitment, much has been accomplished. The results of our trial in China were published in Cell Transplantation. In that trial increasing doses of umbilical cord blood mononuclear stem cells (UCBMN) were transplanted into the spinal cord and fifteen out of twenty patients with chronic complete spinal cord injury recovered the ability to walk with minimal assistance but only following intensive locomotor training. Over half of the patients were able to use the bathroom on their own. However, the trial left several unanswered questions. For example, the role of lithium and if intense training alone would restore walking? These are the basis for additional clinical trials.
To bring these trials to the United States, we met with the FDA at which time they asked for additional animal studies. That data is being analyzed and, as soon as that is completed, we will reapply with the intent to begin the trials this year. With the support of families, hospitals, and the prime minister, we also are applying to the government of India for a similar trial.
We are working hard on several things including lumbosacral spinal cord injury, new approaches to improve recovery, and gene silencing. We developed the first lumbosacral spinal cord injury model and, using that model, are transplanting neural stem cells and Muse cells. We also are trying new methods to enhance recovery including the ability of Muse cells to eat dying neurons and becoming neurons, and stimulating the brain to increase regeneration and reconnections of regenerated fibers.
We also have been working on novel approaches to increasing voluntary motor recovery and restoration of sensation and proprioception such as using functional electrical stimulation (FES) to activate nerves and muscles in the hands and legs while the person tries to move in time with music.
These are very promising times, and we are so grateful for your continued support. Without your help, we would not have been able to achieve these successes, and with your help, we will move faster towards our shared goal.
Wise Young, M.D., Ph.D.,
Richard H. Shindell
Chair in Neuroscience