Science to overcome SCI needs inspiration

I was in Barcelona recently at the Picasso museum, impressed by this revolutionary artist. He experimented with ideas and design, colour and shapes. He altered our perception of objects and our interpretation of faces and bodies. He had the original thought that comes to geniuses.He reinvented art and it’s form.

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I loved Gaudi’s interpretation of design and architecture, very tangent to the thinking at the time. It made me think about medical research and the science that needs to be encouraged to overcome Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). To understand the complexities of the central nervous system will take an outside the box brain. To piece the medical minutia together to be able to rectify severe spinal cord trauma will be phenomenal yet fundamentally life changing for quadriplegics and paraplegics worldwide.

The science to overcome SCI.

I view the revolution in art and the progress in architecture just like modern-day medical development. It must be encouraged and funded as sooner or later some genius will understand the complex structure and treatment for traumatic SCI. We have to have faith in the talented and encourage their thoughts, develop their ideas as they are our future.

Just as I was about the publish my piece above….. the news exploded with: Man With Severed Spinal Cord Walks Again After Cell Transplant. 

The man paralyzed for two years is walking again, albeit with a frame, after a transplant to his spine. The treatment, to be published in this month’s Cell Transplantation, has been under discussion for a while, but has only now shown success.

Olfactory ensheathing glia (OEGs) surround olfactory axons, the nerve fibers that conduct electrical charges from the nose to the brain to allow us to smell. What makes them of interest to spinal patients is that OEGs maintain their capacity to promote new neurons into adulthood.  These neurons usually survive just six to eight weeks, and require constant replacement if we are not to lose our sense of smell. OEGs keep forming paths for new receptor neurons to transmit their messages.

This capacity for regrowth has inspired spinal researchers frustrated by the fact that the mammalian central nervous system does not regenerate axons. The idea is that if OEGs are transplanted into the spinal cord at the point of injury, damaged axons will start to restore themselves.

Mr. Fidyka was selected as the subject for the OEG transplant trial, a joint operation between University College London and Wroclaw University Hospital, Poland. Cells from one of his olfactory bulbs were cultured for two weeks before being transplanted through 100 micro-injections around the scar site.

Science to overcome SCI

BBC TV current affairs program Panorama was invited to film his response to the treatment. At first, despite five hours of exercise, five times a week, Fidyka showed no response, but at the three-month mark he noticed that his left thigh was putting on muscle. After six months he was able to take faltering steps with the assistance of leg braces and parallel bars. 

University College’s Professor Geoff Raisman, who discovered OEGs, described Fidyka’s small steps as “more impressive than man walking on the Moon.”             Adapted from Stephen Luntz report.  

My mind is dwarfed by this inspired cell transplantation research, development and implementation. As I drifted around Barcelona musing on art and architecture, musing on original and unique human ideas and interpretation  – advanced medical progress was actually happening across the world in Poland. I am delighted, amazed and hopeful – this medical success story could change the future for SCI wheelchair users !

Science to overcome SCI


Barcelona’s Gaudi – Inspired by faith

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