First Paralyzed Human Treated With Stem Cells Has Regained His Upper Body Movement

Thousands Americans die in car accidents. Hundreds of thousands wake up paralyzed. That’s exactly what happened to Kristopher Boesen. He lost the control over his car, and crushed into a tree and lamp post. The worst part came when doctors said that he may never be able do to anything.

Kris was offered to undergo a stem cell procedure which could “have the capability to repair injured nervous tissue through replacement of damaged cells. Doctors couldn’t guarantee a 100% success, but Kris was determined to take the risk.

The process first started in April. Dr. Liu injected 10 million AST-OPC1 stem cells into Kris’ spine. These cells are obtained from donated eggs that are later fertilized in vitro.

Typically, spinal cord injury patients undergo surgery that stabilizes the spine but does very little to restore motor or sensory function. 

With this study, we are testing procedure that may improve neurological function, which could mean the difference between being permanently paralyzed and being able to use one’s arms and hands.

Restoring that level of function could significantly improve the daily lives of patients with severe spinal injuries,” Dr. Liu explained.

The outcome

Kris noticed the first signs of improvement after 3 weeks. He could make his first phone call after 2 months. Moving around in a wheelchair made thing easier for him. Kris’ motor functions improved. Two of his spinal cords worked again, and Kris became independent.

“All I’ve wanted from the beginning was a fighting chance…But if there’s an opportunity for me to walk again, then heck yeah! I want to do anything possible to do that,” Kris said.

Doctors can’t say anything about Kris’ further improvement, but they will keep with the stem cell research. One day, paralyzed patients will be able to recover quickly.

This is a big step forward, and we can’t wait for the best to come. Dr. Kiy and his colleagues at USC will proceed with their research. The power of stem cells can be used in the treatment of paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes.

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