Israeli scientists have engineered human spinal cord implants for treating paralysis, Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel has said.
In a new study published in the journal Advanced Science on Monday, TAU scientists created functional spinal cord tissues from belly fat tissues taken from patients, Xinhua news agency reported.
The team used genetic engineering to reprogram the tissue cells, reverting them to a state that resembles embryonic stem cells in a process mimics the embryonic development of the spinal cord.
In this way, the tissue cells taken from the patient were turned into 3D implants of neuronal networks containing motor neurons.
The scientists said that they also produced from the tissue a personalised hydrogel, that would evoke no immune response or rejection after implantation.
The hydrogel-wrapped stem cells were then implanted in lab animals that featured chronic paralysis, successfully restoring walking abilities in 80 per cent of tests.
“We plan to reach clinical trials in humans, and ultimately get patients back on their feet,” the researchers concluded.