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The Sense of Smell May Hold the Secret to Spinal Cord Repair

A Polish man paralyzed from the chest down since 2010 has regained the ability to walk after a new treatment transplanted cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord. 

A fascinating new treatment may provide hope for those who have been told they may never walk again. After all, that's what doctors said to Darek Fidyka of Poland after a knife attack in 2010 left him paralyzed from the chest down. Yet now, two years after undergoing an experimental procedure, Fidyka is able to walk with aid of a frame.


BBC News' Fergus Walsh explains how a team of British and Polish doctors reignited Fidyka's mobile fire:

"The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) - specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell.

OECs act as pathway cells that enable nerve fibres in the olfactory system to be continually renewed."

These regenerative cells were first removed from the patient's nasal cavity, allowed to grow in culture, and then implanted into his spinal cord. As Walsh writes, the scientists who have monitored Fidyka believe the OECs helped reconnect the nerves in his spine and set him on the road to recovery. MRI scans show that gaps in the spinal cord fully recovered after the procedure.

For more about how the sense of smell could hold the key to spinal recovery, read Walsh's full article at BBC News

Photo credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock

For more on physical regeneration, check out the following Big Think/Floating Universe video with Dr. Doug Melton about an experiment testing the capabilities of young blood to repair muscles in older subjects:

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Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

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What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

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Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

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Scientists solve the origin of Stonehenge’s sarsen stones

Most of Stonehenge's megaliths, called sarens, came from West Woods, Wiltshire.

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    Why are there so many humans?

    Having lots of kids is great for the success of the species. But there's a hitch.

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