Cell transplant gets paralyzed monkey back on his feet

In what's being billed as a world first in biomedical research circles, Japanese investigators were able to use iPS cells to help repair a damaged spinal cord in a small monkey. And they say the same approach promises to work in humans.

The researchers paralyzed a marmoset, inflicting a wound that left it unable to walk. They developed iPS cells from skin cells using a well known gene formula, changing the cells into neural precursor cells that were transplanted into the spine. Within six weeks the small primate was able to walk again and after three months there was no sign of cancer.

"The animal had recovered to the level where it was jumping around. It was very close to the normal level," Professor Hideyuki Okano of Tokyo's Keio University told the AFP. "It is the world's first case in which a small-size primate recovered from a spinal injury using stem cells."

Okano's work with primates follows a similarly successful effort using a mouse. And he intends to keep pushing toward human studies. "We intend to use safer, better-quality iPS cells in our experiments so that clinical trials of the treatment method (on humans) will become possible."

- read the story from the AFP