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This is Science Today. A therapy that made paralyzed rats walk again was developed at the University of California, Irvine and was based on work by a research team led by Hans Keirstead, who is co-director of the UCI Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center.

Kierstead:      What we've done is develop a means of replacing one of the spinal cord's cells that's lost after injury. Step one was to identify what was lost, step 2 was to take stem cells, which can make any cell on the body and restrict their differentiation, so they become only this spinal cord cell type that is lost. Step 3, was to replace that cell in animal models of spinal cord injury and restore the ability of those animals to walk.

Narrator:        This is the first trial in the world using human embryonic stem cells.

Keirstead:      So, the importance of that - the value of that is great, far greater than this treatment alone. It paves a way for the next human embryonic stem cell treatment to get to the clinic. This is the first step along the road that we're soon going to see turn into a racetrack.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.