Doctors in China Complete Spinal Cord Surgery

spinalcordsurgeryLast week, doctors in China performed the first trial surgery to repair a patient’s damaged spinal cord with stem cells and a collagen complex. Dai Jianwu, a research fellow with the Institute of Genetics and Development Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Cas), led the research.

The patient of the first surgery, which occurred on January 16th, is reported to be in good condition. His spinal cord was damaged in a traffic accident in November, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

During the surgery, a scar, left from the initial surgery following the accident, was removed and replaced with a tube of stem cells. Doctors designed collagen fibers to create a bridge for nerves to grow along. They also added stem cells to produce regenerative tissue that will help increase the capacity for nerves to regenerate in the affected area.

“As you can see, collagen has huge potential in medicine including in very advanced genetics.  The uses and benefits of collagen are countless; every year we discover new properties of this unique substance,” said Dr. Piotr Pukta, owner of Colyfine. “Collagen is the protein of life – there is not even one publication in the world which shows any negative side effects of collagen.”

Scientists at CAS have been researching this technology for 10 years, experimenting on mice, rats, and dogs with great success. Scientists hope to improve the safety of the surgery during the human trials, and expect between 20 and 30 patients to participate in the next stage of research.

The surgery took four hours, and doctors are now waiting to see how the patient recovers.

“We have a large family to raise. I hope he can feel his legs again as soon as possible,” the patient’s wife told CCTV America. “I’ll be very happy if he can stand up one day, even if he can only walk one tenth the distance we do.”

This is the first instance of regenerative spinal cord surgery anywhere in the world. An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide suffer from spinal cord injuries annually. Preventable trauma accounts for 90% of all spinal cord injuries, but instances of injury caused by degeneration or disease are increasing.

Six more people have volunteered for the trial surgery.

“Collagen has positive response of the immune system, and most importantly,  it is fully histocompatible substance. I believe that in the future people will know much more about collagen usage. What we know now  is that collagen has fantastic properties in skin and joints regeneration,” said Pukta.