Four years ago, Darek Fidyka was stabbed in the back , leaving his spinal cord severed, and his body from the chest down paralyzed. Now, after an experimental treatment, Fidyka has regained some feeling in his lower body and is learning to walk again.
The treatment, developed by researchers in the UK and Poland, involved removing one of Fidyka's olfactory bulbs (the structures in the brain that allow you to smell) growing cells from the bulb, and then injecting those cells into the damaged area of Fidyka's spinal cord. The researchers were interested in cells from the olfactory bulb in particular because the nerves in the olfactory system are the only part of the human nervous system known to regrow after being damaged, with the help of olfactory ensheathing cells.
The researchers are looking to use less invasive techniques in the future, because undergoing brain surgery to extract the olfactory tissue isn't anyone's idea of a good time, much less someone who is paralyzed.