Imagine losing control of your car and waking up in the hospital paralyzed from the neck down. This is the story of Kristopher Boesen, who experienced a life-changing moment where his car spiraled out of control on a slippy road surface, slamming into a tree and lamp post. Doctors warned Kris’s parents that he might never be able to function from the neck down again.
Kris was offered the opportunity to go through a potentially life-changing procedure involving stem cells, which ‘have the capability to repair injured nervous tissue through replacement of damaged cells‘ (1). The experimental procedure did not guarantee any restoration to Kris’s paralysis, but to him, the risk was worth taking.
The process began in April where Dr. Liu injected 10 million AST-OPC1 cells directly into Kris’ cervical spinal cord. Dr. Liu explains that; “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.” (2)