The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, has given the Miami Project permission to begin clinical trials on a study to treat patients with paralyzing spinal cord injuries. This ground-breaking study seeks to find a cure and re-establish both function and sensation in patients suffering from paralysis. The Miami Project is the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury research centre to date.
Former NFL player Nick Buoncioniti founded the Miami Project in 1985 after his son, Marc Buoniconti, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while playing football.
The new clinical trials will transplant the patient’s own Schwann cells from their leg and inject them into the injury site. Schwann cells behave like stem cells and rejuvenate damaged nerve cells, so researchers hope to use them to find a cure for paralysis. These cells are key to how the body sends electrical signals through the nervous system.
Barth Green, neurologist, co-founder and Chair of the Miami Project says “We believe the announcement is just as important to our field as man’s first step on the moon was to the space program.” For those living with spinal cord injury like Marc Buoniconti, the scientific potential of this research is good reason to be, in his words, “more optimistic now than he has ever been before!”