Stem Cell Pioneer Dr. Carlos Lima Dies

Dr. Carlos Lima, who pioneered using Adult Stem Cells to cure and/or improve paralysis from spinal cord injuries,  has died on June 21.  “The world has lost a wonderful, compassionate scientist and clinician in the field of adult stem cell therapy”, said Dr. Walter Drake, of the Drake Biomedical Institute,  and acting Dean of the Panama College of Cell Science. Dr. Drake further noted that Dr. Lima of Portugal, will long be remembered for coining the term “repair stem cells” at the Stem Cell Symposium in Greece in 2008. The term refers to Adult Stem Cells found in all patients whose job it is to repair damaged tissue, defeat disease, organize new growth. This is as distinguished from Embryonic Stem Cells, which Dr. Lima referred to as “proliferating cells” which cause tumors when injected into adult hosts. Moreover, another companion fact, suppressed in the USA , is that embryonic stem cells are always rejected by the recipient’s immune system, and consequently can only be used, if at all,  along with immuno-suppressive drugs.

At that same Symposium in 2008,  Dr. Lima reported on his protocol wherein neural stem cells are obtained from the patient’s own nose  and transplanted into a paralyzed patient’s backbone. His treatment was the first in the world permitting some paraplegics to leave their wheel chairs and walk! (If you don’t believe this, see patient’s testimony below). The term “repair stem cells” ONLY refers to adult stem cells in the patient’s own body, and NEVER refers to “embryonic stem cells”.

According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute [], “Dr. Lima, who was based in Portugal, developed a procedure for chronic, severe spinal cord injury in which patients received their own stem cells contained in tissue from the inside of the nose called olfactory mucosa stem cells. The olfactory stem cell transplants were put into the spinal lesions of paraplegic and tetraplegic patients.Dr. Lima and his team in Portugal performed this surgery on over 100 patients with few adverse events and dramatic functional improvement when accompanied by appropriate physical rehabilitation regimes, and actually getting people walking with various degrees of success. ”

“Two of Dr. Lima’s patients were profiled in the PBS series Innovation,” the Institute continued.  Dr. Jean Peduzzi-Nelson of Wayne State University has been working to bring the technique to treat spinal cord injuries developed by Dr. Lima to clinical trial here in the United States.”

These findings were reported in a July 2006 Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine article, in which they wrote that adult stem cells are beginning to offer the most hope for those paralyzed from spinal cord injuries. Lima’s adult stem cell research showed restored motor function and sensation in a few paralyzed patients using adult stem cells obtained from a patient’s own nose.

Credit: From an article published 7/3/2012 at by Steven Ertelt (Lisbon, Portugal)


Supporting these assertions is one of Dr. Lima’s patients, Susan Fait, who testified under oath before the USA Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space, July 14, 2004:

My name is Susan Fajt, and I want to thank Chairman Brownback and members of this Committee for this opportunity to tell you of the adult stem cell treatment I received for spinal cord injury in Portugal by Dr. Carlos Lima, and its results to date. But first, allow me to share with you some basic facts about spinal cord injury to explain why I chose Dr. Lima’s procedure.

On November 17, 2001, I suffered a spinal cord injury and became paralyzed in an auto accident. My life has changed in ways unfathomable. Emotions run strong and decisions must be made to end needless suffering. I chose to live and fight for a cure. Perhaps paralysis has robbed me of my freedom, but it can never take away my belief that a cure is attainable through research. There are currently no effective treatments available for spinal cord injury in the United States.

When I was injured I was twenty-four years old, and I loved life more than you can imagine!  Today, I have been given a great honor to tell you the story of my quest for a cure for this catastrophic condition.

After tears of pain and years of searching, I found, through my own research, Dr. Carlos Lima in Portugal. My treatment with Dr. Lima took place on June 17th, 2003. I was the 11th patient in the world, and the third from the United States, to receive this treatment.

Dr. Lima used an adult stem cell treatment that uses an Olfactory Muscosa graft to promote growth of axons to bridge the site of contusion, in my hopes that functional recovery would help me to once again walk, run, dance, and do everything I would love, not to mention normal daily activities which are so easily taken for granted, such as bowel and bladder control.

Only part of my dreams has been attained. But I have come farther than my American doctors ever thought. My most recent MRI took place 5 days ago. The doctors were in disbelief at the improvement they saw where my spinal cord had been injured. But most important on my way to recovery is that I can now walk with the aid of braces. I am now preparing to shed the shell of this wheelchair, which has confined me for over two years, to more often use my braces and walker for mobility. This is something my doctors here in America told me would never be possible with my level of injury and to accept my fate. 

The U.S taxpayer pays over $30 million per day on care for spinal cord injury and only $68 million per year in a search for a cure.  Medical research in the United States is more advanced and far more superior to any other country in the world. Yet citizens, such as myself, risk their lives and are forced to seek treatment in foreign countries.

Source: Crusade for Life [].


Ed. Note: The success in the use of neural stem cells (from the patient’s nose) from a patient exhibiting paraplesia or quadraplesia, to treat the condition, seems to vary inversely with the time to treatment. Patients treated with stem cells shortly after injury or within 1-2 years of injury certainly do much better than those whose injury is more time distant. The postulate for this finding is that while the spinal cord is repaired in the more time-distant injuries, the patient’s muscle mass and the nerve-muscle feedback mechanism has been degraded to a substantial extent, that it can take a long time for recovery to occur, if at all. Perhaps what is needed in addition to the spinal repair via the patient’s own stem cells, is some mechanism of electrical charges or other techniques to promote the nerve-muscle feedback and recognition system. Going forward, it is best that patients with spinal cord injury attempt to obtain adult stem cell therapy early on, or as early as possible. If you are in the USA, get out  and find an international treatment center. You can find one for free at: run by adult stem cell patient advocate,  Don Margolis.