Transplant of nasal cavity cells to spinal cord enables this paralysed man to walk once again
4 The sense of smell and spinal repair
The intricate neural circuitry responsible for our sense of smell is the only part of the nervous system that revives throughout adult life. It is this ability that scientists have tried to exploit in encouraging repair in the spinal cord.
Each and every time we breathe molecules carrying different odors in the air come into contact with nerve cells in the nose. These convey messages to our olfactory bulbs – at the very top of the nasal cavity, sitting at the base of the brain.
The nerve cells are being repeatedly injured and must be substituted. This procedure of regeneration is made likely by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which provide a pathway for the fibres to grow back.