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Nine Japanese go to China for fetal cell transplants

Nine Japanese with damaged spinal cords underwent cell transplants in China with cells taken from aborted fetuses, Japan Spinal Cord Foundation officials said Thursday.

The transplants were conducted by Huang Hongyun, a doctor at the Capital Medical College Hospital in Beijing, in the hopes that the paralyzed patients will regain some movement, the foundation said.

The treatment is not available in Japan, and the effectiveness and safety of the procedure has not been verified, according to the foundation.

The Web site Spine Damage China International Recovery Support Center solicits patients from Japan.

According to the Web site, the procedure involves removing mucosal cells from an aborted fetus’s nose, growing them and injecting the results into the patient’s spine.

The transplant is believed to aid in the regeneration of nerve cells in the injured spinal cord, possibly enabling patients to regain feeling and eventually movement in paralyzed limbs, according to the Web site.

Huang says he has treated several hundred patients and claims many of them have shown improvement.

The Chinese center has not disclosed the long-term effects or the safety of the treatment, the Japan Spinal Cord Foundation said, adding that there have been reported cases of side effects.

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