The olfactory system—or sense of smell—is unique in mammals in that its nerve cells are able to constantly regenerate. It’s the only part of our nervous system that regenerates very single day as part of its normal function. And it’s lucky that it does: every time we breathe in, the nerve cells in our nose are exposed to the bacteria and toxins and get killed off. If these didn’t regenerate, humans would lose their sense of smell in around a month.
Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are crucial to this process of regeneration. They prevent scarring and protect and guide the growing nerve cells.
A collection of OECs grown in 2D culture
Role of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) described
OECs are first described as being crucial to nerve cell regeneration.
First use of OEC transplantation in animals
The first studies are released in Spain and
Britain showing cells could be taken from
the nose and put into the spinal cord of
animals and stimulate regeneration.
First transplant of OECs into the human
Griffith University’s GRIDD commences
their Phase I Clinical Trial showing that
the procedure of transplanting cells was safe.
OEC cellular therapy research
University of Cambridge released a study of olfactory cell transplantation into
dogs with spinal cord injury and showed
regeneration in some of them.
OEC therapy shows success
in a human *
Professor Geoffrey Raisman (UK) undertakes olfactory cell transplantation into Polish firefighter
Darek Fidyka, restoring some motor and
Spinal injury project
Queensland Government awarding
$5 m for a 3-year preclinical development
project at GRIDD & MHIQ for an OEC
*The human trial in 2014 demonstrated partial regeneration, despite several limitations in the therapy.
By improving the purification and preparation of cells prior to transplantation, dramatically improved outcomes
could be achieved. Proving this hypothesis is the aim of the Phase I/IIa clinical trial.
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