WillWalk, an Austin based non-profit organization has committed itself to be at the forefront of ending Paralysis. WillWalk will raise $3 million to help fund the first non-controversial human stem cell trials for people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).
The money raised will fund the first of this kind of research in the U.S. The stem cells being used are a non-controversial adult stem cell from umbilical cord blood. These studies will be a landmark achievement in medicine and will be the first time stem cells are used on humans to treat chronic SCI.
Dr. Wise Young from the Keck Institute in New Jersey, is currently collaborating with doctors in Austin to work on conducting trials at the Brackenridge Brain and Spine Center in Austin, TX in conjunction with the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation. Initially, the trials will involve 30 patients of which a portion will be treated with the stem cells, and with Lithium to promote neuron growth, and extensive rehabilitation.
"Through our work with The University of Texas and University Medical Center Brackenridge, we will solve one of man's greatest medical challenges -- curing paralysis. Conducting ground-breaking SCI research will make Austin's Brackenridge one of the 5 major spinal cord centers in North America," said Doug English, President, Lonestar Paralysis Foundation.
The vision of the WillWalk Foundation came about when Marty Butler and Jared Dunten's lives were inextricably woven together after a camping trip in 2000 where Jared dove into the Rio Grande, hit a sand bar and broke his neck at the C4-5 level. Marty went into the water resuscitated him. Their shared passion for art coupled with Jared's unwillingness to fully accept life as a quadriplegic was the seedling that formed WillWalk. "Our vision is to communicate the idea that paralysis is unacceptable and the time has come for a cure," said Founder, Jared Dunten. Their first collaborative art exhibit debuted at The University of Texas Bass Concert Hall in March 2009. The exhibit is currently being auctioned on the foundation web site www.Willwalk.org. Proceeds will fund this groundbreaking research.