Miami scientists announced Tuesday they have received federal approval to go forward with human trials aimed to find a cure for paralysis, the Miami Herald reported.
As part of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, scientists from the University of Miami plan to transplant patients’ own Schwann cells, which are found mainly in the nervous system, to the site of recent spinal cord injuries in hopes of curing the injury.
Schwann cells are mainly responsible for sending electrical signals through the nervous system, so the scientists hope the cells can do the same for the spinal cord. The Miami Project has been working on the concept for over 25 years, according to the Miami Herald.
The trial is the only cell-based therapy approved by the FDA for spinal cord injuries. The first stage will involve eight patients who have been injured within five days. Doctors will take the Schwann cells from the patients’ legs, culture them for three to five weeks, and then re-implant them at the site of the injury 26 to days afterward.