Cell transplant surgery for severe spinal cord injury

Information for vets:

Experiments in rats have shown that transplanting glial cells from the olfactory lobe into areas of severely damaged (including complete transections) thoracolumbar spinal cord results in greatly improved locomotor capacity. Regrowth of previously damaged axons across the lesion site occurs following transplantation and is thought to mediate the improvement in function.

These experiments suggest that olfactory glial cell transplantation into the damaged spinal cord may be a feasible and efficacious future clinical therapy for human and animal patients. Here at Cambridge , we have secured funding to investigate the use of olfactory glial cell transplants in canine patients and so we are keen to recruit suitable cases from throughout the country. Because of this funding input we are able to offer this procedure to owners at a heavily discounted cost.

Initially, we selected thoracolumbar spinal cord injuries that were very unlikely to recover with conventional treatment: a) Acute disc cases that did not show appreciable recovery of function by six weeks post-injury; and, b) Fracture / luxation cases that had loss of deep pain sensation. However, our early experience has confirmed that the procedure is safe and so we are widening the selection criteria to include any case with loss of deep pain sensation. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that the outcome following this new approach will be as good as that obtained in rats; the purpose in carrying out this study is to test how good it is. However we feel that it is an important study, since a positive result after this cellular transplantation therapy in a test group of dogs would have a dramatic impact on the prospects of treating spinal cord injury in both dogs and human patients.

Therefore if you encounter any such cases please contact Dr Nick Jeffery at Dept Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES – preferably by e-mail – ndj1000@cam.ac.uk or phone – 01223 339969, to discuss this novel treatment option.

 

Information for dog owners:

At Cambridge Veterinary School we are investigating cell transplantation (moving cells from one region of the body to another) as a means to improve the outcome following severe spinal injuries in dogs.

Although dogs with any type of spinal injury are potential candidates for this new treatment, it will not be necessary for the majority of cases, since most will recover satisfactorily with currently routine medicine or surgery. The cases we are investigating are those that have had especially severe injuries – whether recently or in the past – and would not be expected to recover, or who have already failed to recover, with conventional therapy.

The procedure is based on methods, carried out elsewhere, that produced remarkable improvement in the ability of rats to walk after spinal cord injury. Cells are collected from inside the skull (at the back of the nose) and, after increasing the cell numbers and purifying them, placed into the damaged region of the spinal cord. The removal of cells from inside the skull can be accomplished without post-operative problems and the spinal operation is routine. At the Vet School there is a great deal of expertise in anaesthetics, pain relief and nursing care of spinally-injured dogs so we can ensure that each dog in this study receives top quality medical care and post-operative distress and suffering is avoided.

The potential of this procedure is enormous, although we cannot guarantee that the outcome following this new type of surgery will be as good as that obtained in rats; the purpose in carrying out this study is to test how good it is. We feel that it is an important study, since a positive result after this cellular transplantation therapy in a test group of dogs would have a dramatic impact on treatment of spinal cord injury in both dogs and human patients. Because we have received funding from a spinal cord injury charity and the Kennel Club the procedure can be offered at a minimal cost.

Dr Nick Jeffery, Lecturer in Clinical Neurology, Dept Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge CB3 0ES

e-mail: ndj1000@cam.ac.uk

Phone: 01223 339969

Fax: 01223 337017

Courtesy of: Dr Nick Jeffery, Lecturer in Clinical Neurology, Dept. of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge

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