ALS awareness has recently been brought to people`s attention with the ice bucket challenge, globally raising an unprecedented 75 million USD for research into the disease. A specialized Chinese research and clinical application team at the Neurorestoratology center at Jingdong Zhongmei Hospital, headed by Professor Hongyun Huang, has been pioneering controversial treatments of central neural system diseases for the last decade: carrying out cell-based neuro-restorative therapies for spinal cord injury (SCI), motor neuron diseases (MNDs), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cerebral palsy (CP) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Currently on their 2nd generation of neuro-restoration therapy, a multi-cell, multi-route treatment, Professor Huang has successfully treated thousands of patient: whilst promising no cure, he has brought greater levels of mobility and quality of life to sufferers.
The type of cells used vary according to the disorder but include: olfactory unsheathing cells, neural progenitor cells, Schwann cells, umbilical cord stromal cells, autologous bone marrow mesenchymal cells and autologous nasal olfactory cells. Which are delivered to the patient via brain and spinal cord injections, intrathecal implant by cervical puncture, thoracic puncture, lumbar puncture, cisterna magna puncture and intravascular injection.
The treatment, whilst yet to be proven by western scientific standards and explained fully by Professor Huang himself, still speak for themselves, overturning decades of convention that chronic spinal injury can never be treated.
Over a period of a few months Patricia Calvo followed a selection of Professor Huang`s patients as they received the treatments and saw the realities of being given back mobility that had eluded them for years.
For more on ALS please visit the ALS Association website.
Beijing, Jingdong Zhongmei Hospital.
All Images © Patricia Calvo