Can nerves be used the same way as stem cells?

Amazing news comes from South Africa today. Neurologists there have discovered a revolutionary technology that grafts nerves from the lining of the nose (new layers of these nerves are grown every month) to stimulate nerves in other areas of the body — and begin to restore sensation and even the ability to move in patients with paralysis.Professor Geoffrey Raisman of the National Institute for Medical Research there, says he hopes to see people with spinal cord injuries (such as those suffered by Christopher Reeve–former Superman star who just died) walking within 10 years.

Wow. The nerves in the nose that regularly renew themselves as a source of regenerative recovery. It seems like a miracle. It seems like something we should somehow have known long, long ago. If this works as expected, this could begin to make all the controversy about stem cell research a moot point. Maybe there are other nerves in the body that can work the same way and we wouldn’t have to use discarded human embryos after all.

This is a technology we’ll be watching closely.