Monday, November 29, 2004

Stem Cell Breakthrough?

Here's an excerpt from the the article at the Sidney Herald:

Seoul: A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.

Hwang Mi-soon, 37, had been bedridden since damaging her back in an accident. Last week she walked again with the help of a walking frame at a press conference where South Korea researchers announced the results of their stem cell therapy.

They said it was the world's first published case in which a patient with spinal cord injuries had been successfully treated with stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

Although they cautioned that more research was needed and verification from international experts was required, the South Korean researchers said Ms Hwang's case could signal a leap forward in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

I think the most encouraging note in the article was that the researchers said that 'verification from international experts' was needed. Normally, if someone who is not credible makes a claim like this, verification is never allowed or is dismissed as 'unnecessary' (even thought the very foundation of science argues otherwise). So the stance of the South Korean researchers indicates to me that this might be real. And what a mind-blowing advance it would be if this therapy is proven to be effective and repeatable.

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