Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition with limited pharmacological treatment options to restore function. Regenerative approaches have recently attracted interest as an adjuvant to current standard of care. Adipose tissue–derived (AD) mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent a readily accessible cell source with high proliferative capacity. The CELLTOP study, an ongoing multidisciplinary phase 1 clinical trial conducted at Mayo Clinic (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03308565), is investigating the safety and efficacy of intrathecal autologous AD-MSCs in patients with blunt, traumatic SCI. In this initial report, we describe the outcome of the first treated patient, a 53-year-old survivor of a surfing accident who sustained a high cervical American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade A SCI with subsequent neurologic improvement that plateaued within 6 months following injury. Although he improved to an American Spinal Injury Association grade C impairement classification, the individual continued to be wheelchair bound and severely debilitated. After study enrollment, an adipose tissue biopsy was performed and MSCs were isolated, expanded, and cryopreserved. Per protocol, the patient received an intrathecal injection of 100 million autologous AD-MSCs infused after a standard lumbar puncture at the L3-4 level 11 months after the injury. The patient tolerated the procedure well and did not experience any severe adverse events. Clinical signs of efficacy were observed at 3, 6, 12, and 18 months following the injection in both motor and sensory scores based on International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury. Thus, in this treated individual with SCI, intrathecal administration of AD-MSCs was feasible and safe and suggested meaningful signs of improved, rather than stabilized, neurologic status warranting further clinical evaluation.
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