For decades, doctors and scientists from around the world have been working to find treatments for incurable diseases such as cancer and leukemia. One of their ranks, Jeon Sang-ryong, a professor and neurosurgeon at the Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul, had a breakthrough last month after years of research and was able to spark a ray of hope for people suffering from paralysis, due to his work on stem cell therapy.
For the first time in the world, Jeon and his team were able to objectively prove that three out of 10 patients suffering from general paralysis showed significant signs of recovery after receiving the therapy. The process involved injecting their own mesenchymal stem cells into their injured spinal cords.
In the past, the transplantation of these stem cells - which fall into a variety of cell types, including cartilage and bone cells - after spinal cord injury has shown positive results in animals, helping with increased tissue preservation and the recovery of lost functions, but less was known about its effect on humans.
“After receiving stem cell therapy, the three paralyzed patients showed improvement in their daily activities,” said Jeon in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily last month. “Our team was also able to note changes, such as decreases in cavity size via magnetic resonance imaging.”