The UK Stem Cell Foundation has supported the work of Professor Raisman and his team at UCL for several years. Recognised as a world leader in his field, Prof. Raisman has pioneered the use of olfactory ensheathing cells to repair damage to the spinal cord. These stem cells are taken from the patient's own upper nasal passages and are used to help regrow nerve fibres in the damaged spinal cord. An initial study by the team has shown that this procedure is feasible and safe in spinal injured patients. More recently, the team has been searching for the best source of olfactory ensheathing cells in human tissue as millions of stem cells are needed to bridge a gap in the spinal cord. They also are developing prototype nanofibre biomaterials, which will provide the bridge on which transplanted OECs can grow to repair human spinal injuries. The next stage to this project is to raise sufficient funds for a clinical trial.
Our chair, Sir Richard Sykes, had this to say: "We are proud to be the major funders of this work. Our aim is to see potential treatments of this type get into the clinic faster. The first patient is an inspirational and important step, which brings years of laboratory research towards the clinical testbed. To fully develop future treatments that benefit the 3 million paralysed globally will need continued investment for wide scale clinical trials."