Clinical Trials in Spinal Cord Injury-Enhance Regeneration
Olfactory ensheathing cells
The olfactory nerve turns over throughout life, so axons are constantly regenerating.
The ensheathing glia of the ON can be obtained by nasal biopsy and may provide a supportive environment for
Animal studies have differed as to whether transplants of OECs meylinate axons (olfactory axons are
unmyelinated) and whether they promote axon regeneration in the injured spinal cord.
The differences may relate to heterogeneity in OEC biology and whether they were obtained from the
(of the nasal mucosa) or the olfactory bulb.
Hundreds of SCI patients have been transplanted by Dr. Hongyun Huang, a neurosurgeon in Beijing, but the
benefits are debated and no controls have been performed.
A single blind, controlled Phase I trial of 3 transplanted patients and 3 controls is under way in Brisbane,
Barnett SC, Chang L (2004) Olfactory ensheathing cells and CNS repair: going solo or in need of a friend? Trends in Neurosciences 27:54-60.