Lucas Linder from Wisconsin was a quadriplegic until an experimental stem cell treatment gave him back the full use of his arms.
The treatment called AST-OPC1, uses embryonic stem cells converted into oligodendrocyte progenitor cells that naturally occur in the brain and spinal cord and facilitate healthy functioning of nerve cells.
The general wisdom is that once a person has a spinal cord injury, they're done for life.
These nerve cells are responsible for motor and sensory functions. They then take 10 million of these cells and inject them into the spine of the injured patient. Dr. Shekar Kurpad, director of the Medical College of Wisconsin's spinal cord injury center, performed the surgery on Lucas.
All five have shown significant improvement in motor function in their arms.
Lucas is one of five people in the U.S. who are undergoing this treatment with success.
It's really, really hard to do. To move anything on my feet, but it's there. And that's what this is all about.
Lucas has even started to gain movement in his toes.
It's five patients, we're not talking about 300 patients.
While the experiment has proven useful for a handful of patients so far, Kurpad is hesitant to laud it as a success just yet.