Surgeons will attempt early next year to mend the severed nerves of young people who have suffered motorbike accidents in the first trial of a simple but potentially revolutionary technology that could one day allow the paralysed to walk again.

At least ten operations will be carried out to test in humans a technique pioneered in animals by the neuroscientist Geoffrey Raisman, who heads the spinal repair unit of University College, London. He discovered 20 years ago that cells from the lining of the nose constantly regenerate themselves. Professor Raisman’s team believes that if those cells were implanted at the site of the damage they would build a bridge across the break, allowing the nerve fibres to knit back together.

“This is not the most popular way of attempting to heal spinal injuries. That would be to produce patented chemicals, which drug companies can make and sell. What we’re proposing could be carried out by any very modestly equipped hospital with neurosurgery. There are no patents. It makes it a very unpopular form of research.

Of the several areas of research enhanced by modern science, stem cell research certainly offers dramatic solutions to some ages-old questions.



  1. mike cannali says:

    Somewhere Christopher Reeve is smiling

  2. joe biotech says:

    What’s with all the self-righteous BS??? This guy’s been publishing in good journals, and it’s not like his research is a secret, either. He’s right, no drug company would sponsor his research, because he’s not researching a drug. But if he really thinks he’s on to something he’s killing people by not patenting the technology. No one can invest in something unpatentable–its just not possible, and he knows that. w/o investors he’s limited to government funds. Sounds like he’s happy with that, even if his patients aren’t.


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