According to an article by Contact Genethique, Japanese researchers have succeeded in curing a small monkey that was paralysed following injury to its spinal cord thanks to the administration of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). The team of Prof Hideyuki Okano, from Keio university, injected the stem cells into the animal’s spinal column nine days after the injury.
The cells used were obtained by implanting four types of genes in human skin cells to reprogramme them. The monkey began to move its limbs after two to three weeks. “After six weeks, the animal had recovered to the level where it was jumping around,” Prof Okano said. “It was very close to the normal level. Its gripping strength on the forefeet also recovered to up to 80 per cent." This team of researchers had also achieved this result with a mouse. “We are carrying out experiments with the aim of using safer cells of better quality so that clinical tests on humans may one day be possible," indicated Prof Okano at a conference on molecular biology in Kobe. The results of this research are still too insufficient to allow their medical use.