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Clinical trial may pave way for new treatments for paralysis

A new clinical trial, which gained approval from federal officials earlier this year, should provide some hope for workers in Denver, Colorado who have sustained spinal cord injuries while on the job. The primary aim of the clinical trial is to seek a cure for paralysis.

Physicians involved in the trial recently completed the procedure on the first patient involved in the trial. The doctors took nerve tissue from the participant's leg and used the tissue to grow Schwann cells. Then, they transplanted the Schwann cells back into the patient's body, to combat the paralysis.

The researchers hope the study will eventually be able to help the 1.3 million Americans who are paralyzed as a result of sustaining spinal cord injuries, according to statistics from the Christopher and Diana Reeve Foundation. In addition, the physicians believe the study may be able to aid in creating new ways to treat neurological diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Unfortunately, at this stage in the trial, there are strict requirements for those who wish to participate. The injured party must have sustained damage to his or her upper and middle back that resulted in a certain amount of paralysis. The study participants will all be between 18 and 50 years of age. In addition, in order for someone to qualify for the trial, he or she must enroll in the study within just five days from the date of the injury.

When someone sustains an injury while on the job, he or she may be eligible to receive workers' compensation payments.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Doctors seek new subjects after first successful cell transplant," Diane C. Lade, March 14, 2013.

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