PARALYSED pet dogs can walk again thanks to a study that gives hope to human patients.
Scientists restored movement to the canines' hind legs by fixing breaks in their spinal cords using cells taken from their noses.
The olfactory ensheathing cells support nerve fibre growth that maintains a communication pathway between the nose and the brain.
Previous research suggests they can help form a bridge between damaged and undamaged spinal cord tissue by regenerating nerve fibre.
Formerly crippled dachshund Jasper was “whizzing around the house” again after the treatment, his delighted owner revealed.
He was one of 34 dogs with spinal cord injuries as the result of accidents and back problems.
The randomised controlled trial is the first to demonstrate effective spinal cord repair in “real life” injury cases.
Although the treatment had been shown to be safe in human patients, its effectiveness was unknown.
Professor Robin Franklin, one of the study leaders from Cambridge University, described the findings as “extremely exciting”.
He added: “They show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement.”
But he warned human patients not to expect too much from the approach, adding: “We’re confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries, but that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function.