Helping those with spinal injuries walk again has long been a holy grail of medical research, but that long-awaited breakthrough is being claimed in the case of a paraplegic. Darek Fidyka was paralysed after being stabbed in the back four years ago but has walked again, albeit with the aid of a frame.
Doctors at University College London are attributing the breakthrough to injecting olfactory ensheathing cells and nerve cells from Mr Fidyka’s nose into his spinal cord to construct a “nerve bridge” between two stumps of the damaged spinal column.
This does not yet raise the prospect that all paraplegics and quadriplegics will regain use of their limbs because Mr Fidyka retained some voluntary movement and sensation in his lower body. But it is still tremendous news for those whom the vicissitudes of fate have put in wheelchairs. They will hope that other researchers will be able to build on this and find a cure for all those with spinal injuries.