It looks like every dog really does have its day. Scientists and researchers have successfully regenerated spinal cord cells of a paralyzed dachshund’s injured spinal cord, giving the dog the ability to use his hind legs again. The procedure involved injecting the dog with his own olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which are found in his nose.
As part of the study at the Regenerative Medicine Centre and Cambridge University’s Veterinary School, researchers have conducted tests on the injured spinal cords of 23 dachshunds. But one 10-year-old dachshund named Jasper has regained feeling and movement in his spinal cord after the series of injections and treatments. The study was conducted exclusively on dachshunds because they are prone to spinal cord injuries.
The results and findings of the study will be published in The Brain — a neurology journal — and involved taking the dachshund’s olfactory ensheathing cells from their nose and continuing to grow the cell cultures. The OECs are found at the back of the nasal cavity and are the only nerve fibers in the body that continue to grow well into adulthood. These are the only cells that have the potential ability to repair damaged spinal cord injuries. Researchers have found success in the past by performing these treatments on rats.
Once the OECs were injected into the dachshund, it took several weeks to see any results. After one month, the dachshund began to feel activity in its hind legs again. In some cases, the dachshund regained the ability to walk. The results were so positive that Jasper even regained control of his bowel and bladder.
The researchers are optimistic about the study but remain cautious about performing the same treatment in human subjects. Still, this is a good step towards spinal cord repair in humans and the ability to fight off paralysis. “Before the treatment we used to have to wheel Jasper round on a trolley because his back legs were useless. Now he whizzes around the house and garden and is able to keep up with the other dogs. It’s wonderful,” said Jasper’s owner about the treatment. Here’s some footage of Jasper in action: