Darek Fidyka, a 38-year-old Bulgarian patient, was paralyzed after suffering stab wounds to his back in 2010.
Geoffrey Raisman, a leading professor at University College London’s (UCL) institute of neurology worked with surgeons at Wroclaw University Hospital in Poland to remove one of Fidyka’s olfactory bulbs, which give people their sense of smell, and transplant his olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) and olfactory nerve fibroblasts (ONFs) into the damaged area.
“We believe this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury,” stated Geoffrey Raisman.
They used a nerve bridge constructed between the two stumps of the damage spinal column, they said in the study.
The technique was described as a breakthrough by a study in the journal Cell Transplantation.
Darek can now walk with the aid of a frame after receiving the transplant treatment using cells from his nose.
Following 19 months of treatment, he has recovered some voluntary movement and some sensation in his legs, his medics said.
“While the study is only in one patient, it provides hope of a possible treatment for restoration of some function in individuals with complete spinal cord injury,” said John Sladek, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.