Newspaper profiles first spinal cord patient to get UC Irvine stem cell treatment

April 21, 2011
Timothy Atchinson

When Timothy Atchinson was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident last September, he accepted an offer to be the initial participant in the world's first clinical trial of a human embyronic stem cell-based treatment for damaged spinal cord tissue. The treatment was created in the lab of Hans Keirstead, a neurobiologist with the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at UC Irvine. 

Atchinson, a 21-year-old nursing student in Alabama, was treated at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta—one of seven centers recruited by Geron Corp., a Menlo Park, Calif., biotechnology company sponsoring the trial on 10 patients. Now, months after the treatment—in which about 2 million cells were transplanted into his injured spinal cord—he is beginning to feel some very slight sensation in his legs. Atchinson shared his story with The Washington Post. "This is awesome news," said Keirstead. "Timothy is a true pioneer, and we're excited and hopeful that this is the first step toward a stem cell-based treatment for the thousands of Americans who suffer spinal cord injuries each year."

View by Category