Stem cell trials offers hope for polio afflicted

A stem cell treatment of a paralysed polio patients has shown encouraging results at AIIMS.

New Delhi: A maiden attempt by doctors at AIIMS here to use stem cells for treatment of paralysed polio patients has shown "encouraging" results.

"We have recently undertaken a trial where we have used stem cells in polio patients to see if they can be relieved of their paralytic state. Results have been encouraging as one of the polio patient has shown good limb movement," Dr DK Gupta, head of the department of paediatric surgery, AIIMS said.

Started three months back, method has been tried only on a handful of patients.

"This is just the beginning. This trial will be carried out for the next three years and we will try approach on many more patients before we can draw any conclusion. But if the initial results which are so positive and encouraging can be replicated in the rest of the cases then it could be a ray of hope for polio patients as there is no cure for polio
yet," he said.

Dr Shilpa Sharma, assistant professor with the department of paediatric surgery at RML hospital said, "Since polio is a disease of the nerve, we thought of treating it with stem cells. These stem cells are taken from the patient`s own bone marrow."

This trial was attempted after getting permission from the ethics committee and the ministry of science and technology.

"We have started the trial with children. This patient, who has shown positive results in a short span of time is now able to move her limbs. We are hopeful to get the same results for the other patients we will attempt in near future," she said.

According to WHO, polio is endemic in parts of only four countries: India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are polio-endemic states in India. The disease mainly affects children before the age of five and can cause total irreversible paralysis - usually in the legs.

The last case recorded in the country was on April 29 from Murshidabad district of West Bengal.


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