Before you buy your airfare to Japan, you might want to wait a little bit. Japan has approved a stem-cell treatment for spinal cord injuries, marking the first time such therapy for this kind of injury has received a government approval for sale to patients. But independent researchers warn that the approval is premature.
Ten specialists in stem-cell science or spinal-cord injuries, who were approached for comment by Nature and were not involved in the work or its commercialization, say that evidence that the treatment works is insufficient. Many of them say that the approval for the therapy, which is injected intravenously, was based on a small, poorly designed clinical trial.
The unpublished results describe a trial of 13 people, who had experienced spinal cord injuries in the past 40 days. The team found that infusions of stem cells extracted from the patients’ bone marrow helped them to regain some lost sensation and movement.
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