Vietnam hospital to use stem cells to treat spinal paralysis

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A hospital in Hanoi said Sunday it expects to offer the first effective spinal paralysis treatment in the country using stem cell transplants.

Dr. Nguyen Tien Quyet, director of Vietnam-Germany Friendship Hospital and a leading surgery facility in the country, said the hospitals starting this March will apply the transplantation of adipose tissue-derived stem cells to treat paralysis.

Quyet said the hospital receives between 800 and 900 spinal cord injury cases each year, including around 200 cases in which the spinal marrow is damaged due to broken vertebrae.

Once the latter occurs, victims are relegated to vegetative lives, unable to control their bladders and intestines, he said.

The procedure derives stem cells from adipose tissue of the patient's abdomen and grows them before transplanting them back into the body to help the spinal marrow recover, Quyet said.

He said the treatment is expected to take between four to five weeks and cost around US$5,000-7,000, but first patients will be treated for free or at discounted rates, noting that 32 patients have agreed to participate.

"The advantage of this procedure is that patients use their own fatty tissues and do not have to take anti-rejection drugs.

"The stem cells will help patients recover to different levels, such as they can control their urination and defecation, or they can move or sit up," the doctor said.

He said the transplantation of adipose tissue-derived stem cells is also crucial in dermatological treatment and plastic surgery.

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