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Revolutionary Regenerative Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

The video we're introducing this time is a news video released by "HTB News," titled, “[HTB News] World's First! Nerve Regenerative Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury Patients." It details a therapy approved by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare for the first time, as a regenerative treatment method for spinal cord injury patients.

In 2018, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare approved the regenerative Stemirac injections, jointly developed by Sapporo Medical University and Nipro.
This regenerative treatment method extracts mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow fluid of spinal cord injury patients and cultures them into approximately 100 million cells.
By injecting it into a vein by infusion, nerves in the damaged spinal cord are regenerated.
In this clinical trial conducted at Sapporo Medical University, 12 of 13 patients had functional recovery.
As a condition of approval, efficacy and safety checks must continue to be performed for the next seven years.

A Look at Stemirac Injections

The approved Stemirac injection is the product name of the kit used for the treatment of spinal cord injury, and the generic name is "human (autologous) bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells."

This regenerative therapy was approved in December 2018, subject to conditions and deadlines.
Mesenchymal stem cells, which have been shown to differentiate into nerves and blood vessels, are collected from patients with bone marrow injuries and cultured to 10,000-fold over a period of about two weeks.

The approximately 100 million cells administered intravenously over 30 minutes to an hour can improve neurological syndromes and dysfunction through angiogenesis, anti-inflammatory effects around the damaged spinal cord, and regeneration of spinal nerves.
You can see how it works in detail at 0:23 in the video.
This Stemirac Injection is the first product approved under Japan's revised regenerative medicine act.

Costs and Side Effects of Spinal Cord Injury Regenerative Therapy

Image of chest pain
Photo:Chest pain

Although they are developing groundbreaking regenerative therapy, the price of the therapy, as of February 26, 2019, is extremely expensive, costing around 14,957,755 yen (~$142,000 USD).

Side effects of the treatment include bleeding, wound infections and scars from bone marrow harvest surgery.
In addition, pulmonary infarction may occur due to administration of stem cell arteries.

What Happens in a Spinal Cord Injury?

Image of back pain
Photo:Back pain

The spinal cord is a tunnel-like organ surrounded by the spine that passes through the spinal canal and is responsible for transmitting commands from the brain to the ends of the body, such as the hands and feet.
This spinal cord extends like a branch to the left and right, and from that position it is divided section by section into the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spinal cord.
When the spinal cord is injured, there is no bi-directional transmission of commands from the damaged area to the neural circuits below.
This can lead to disorders such as motor paralysis, sensory paralysis, complete motor paralysis, autonomic neuropathy, dysuria, and complications when defecating.
Until now, the standard treatment for spinal cord injury has been to rehabilitate the injured nerve cells in order to alleviate the aftereffects of the injury, as regeneration is considered difficult.

In addition, it is estimated that 5,000 cases of spinal cord injury occur each year, and it is estimated that there are more than 100,000 patients in Japan.
Under such circumstances, the bone marrow injury regeneration therapy described in the video has become a beacon of hope for patients everywhere.
Although the enormous medical expenses are a bottleneck, this therapy can lead to solutions for paralysis and disabilities such as stroke and spinal cord injury.

Summary of Regenerative Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

The regenerative therapy shown in the video is a true testament to how far modern medicine has come. What'd you think?
Regenerative therapies have give hope to patients with spinal cord injuries.
It'll be interesting to see what the future of regenerative therapy has in store for us!

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
山本 孝(Takashi Yamamoto)
I've been a writer for seven years. I write articles on travel, food, and history.
Stemirac Injections: A Regenerative Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury Patients, Approved for the First Time in the World! A Ray of Hope for Patients All Over the World!
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