Kristopher Boesen is true hero and his story is simply exquisite. He got into a car crash which left him paralyzed from the neck down. After his vehicle lost control due to a slippery road, he hit a tree and a lamp post.
The initial doctor prognosis was that he might never be able to move his body from the neck down.
What he went through
Having in mind his condition, Kris was given the opportunity to go through a procedure involving stem cells, which ‘have the capability to repair injured nervous tissue through replacement of damaged cells‘.
This method had no clear guarantee of improvement but Kris felt he had nothing to lose at the time.
Kris began the treatment in April with the help of Dr. Liu, who injected 10 million AST-OPC1 cells directly into Kris’ cervical spinal cord (AST-OPC1 cells come from donated eggs that are fertilized in vitro (i.e. in a petri dish).
According to Dr. Liu:
“Typically, spinal cord injury patients undergo surgery that stabilizes the spine but does very little to restore motor or sensory function.
With this study, we are testing procedure that may improve neurological function, which could mean the difference between being permanently paralyzed and being able to use one’s arms and hands.
Restoring that level of function could significantly improve the daily lives of patients with severe spinal injuries.”
Three weeks later, Kris began showing signs of improvement and within two months he was able to feed himself, use his cell phone, write his name, operate a motorized wheelchair and hug his friends and family.
“As of 90 days post-treatment, Kris has gained significant improvement in his motor function, up to two spinal cord levels,” said Liu. “In Kris’ case, two spinal cord levels means the difference between using your hands to brush your teeth, operate a computer or do other things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, so having this level of functional independence cannot be overstated.”
“All I’ve wanted from the beginning was a fighting chance,” said Kris, who has a passion for fixing up and driving sports cars and was studying to become a life insurance broker at the time of the accident. “But if there’s a chance for me to walk again, then heck yeah! I want to do anything possible to do that.”
Although doctors are not able to make any promises that Kris’s condition will further improve, they can keep experimenting with stem cell research to try and improve the likelihood of it working fully on paralysis.
So far, they have made huge steps forward and will hopefully continue to do so in their quest to solve paralysis, by teaming up with ‘associate faculty based in departments across KSOM and the University to study stem cell-driven new medicine‘, Dr. Liu and his team at USC are determined to keep researching stem cells and much more!
The groundbreaking surgery is the latest example of how the emerging field of neurorestoration and regenerative medicine might allow victims of accidents to re-claim their mobility and, in effect, their lives. Additionally, stem cell research is ongoing and might even allow patients with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and even cancer find healing.