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Stem Cell Research Pioneer Dies

Dr. Carlos Lima, a scientist who pioneered adult stem cell research to cure spinal cord injuries has died. Dr. Lima was based in Portugal, where he performed his signature surgery which consisted in transplanting a patient’s own olfactory mucosa stem cells into his or her injured spinal cords. A few of these patients had adverse events, but usually showed dramatic functional improvements when subject to an appropriate physical rehabilitation program.

According to, Dr. Lima’s technique has not been approved for clinical trial in the United States. However, Dr. Jean Peduzzi-Nelson, of Wayne State University, has been working to get the technique approved here.

Stem Cells: Older or Younger Cells?

In past posts we have talked about how other researchers are trying to use stem cells to regenerate damaged spinal cord tissue. Some have found that newborn stem cells transplanted from cord blood had younger acting blood cells compared those transplanted from other sources of stem cells like bone marrow. These researchers have focused their efforts on regenerative medicine and are using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which have the ability to regenerate tissue that connects bone, cartilage and tendon. According to their research, the youngest MSC that can be possibly collected, cord tissue-derived MSCs, have shown to have unique characteristics that make them specially suited for regenerative cellular therapies like those considered for spinal cord injuries. These younger cells are known to divide more quickly and more extensively than adult-derived cells, ensuring higher proliferation rates.

Yet, other researchers like Dr. Lima, have concentrated their efforts on transplanting olfactory mucosa autografts into patients with traumatically injured spinal cords. His team conducted a human pilot clinical study on seven American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] class A patients ranging in age from 18 to 32 years. The team transplanted olfactory mucosa autographs onto spinal lesions that ranged from 1 to 6 centimeters at the C4-T6 neurological levels. The study showed moderate to complete filling of the lesion sites, with the following specific results:

  • Two patients reported return of sensation in their bladders, and one of these patients regained voluntary contraction of anal sphincter.
  • Two of the 7 ASIA A patients became ASIA C.
  • Every patient had improvement in ASIA motor scores.
  • The mean increase for the 3 subjects with tetraplegia in the upper extremities was 6.3 ± 1.2 (SEM), and the mean increase for the 4 subjects with paraplegia in the lower extremities was 3.9 ± 1.0.
  • Among the patients who improved in their ASIA sensory neurological scores (all except one patient), the mean increase was 20.3 ± 5.0 for light touch and 19.7 ± 4.6 for pinprick. Most of the recovered sensation below the initial level of injury was impaired.

Adverse events included sensory decrease in one patient that was likely caused by difficulty in locating the lesion, and there were a few instances of transient pain that was relieved by medication. EMG revealed motor unit potential when the patient was asked to perform movement.

It is important to note that these programs are not cheap and that we may be able to help victims that have suffered their spinal cord injuries in accidents caused by the negligence of others recover the funds necessary for their rehabilitations from those who caused the injuries and their insurance companies.

The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano Can Help

If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a tractor-trailer accident, an accident at an amusement park or any other kind of accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases.

Throughout the years, the Miami Dade County Car Accidents Law Offices of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have represented victims of spinal cord injuries resulting from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, accidents at amusement parks or any other kind of accidents caused by someone else’s negligence recover the compensation that may be owed to them. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.

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