Stroke Stem Cell Therapy
Clinical Trials in the UK and US have shown positive results with substantial improvements were seen in patients’ scores on several widely accepted metrics of stroke recovery
What is Stroke
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability worldwide and the second highest cause of death in the world. 1 in 5 stroke victims die and another third are left with permanent disabilities. Majority of stroke (85%) is attributed to the interruption of blood flow to the brain due to a blood clot. When this happens, different cell types of the brain are starved of essential nutrients and oxygen. Haemorrhagic stroke (15%) is attributed to the rapture of the brain artery causing bleeding into the brain tissue or when a brain aneurysm causes bleeding in between the brain and the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.
Currently intensive physical therapy can help people regain some lost function. However, there is currently no procedures available to restore the brain cells that have died as a result of the stroke.
Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke victims
Stem Cell Therapy is a possible treatment for stroke as it helps with restoring damaged brain cells and/or minimize inflammation or damage to brain tissue that sometimes occurs once blood flow is restored.
Current research focuses on two main methods which is endogenous (inside the body repair) and exogenous (outside the body). In the endogenous method, the strategy is to stimulate stem cells that are currently present in the brain and other parts of the body to heal damaged tissues while the exogenous method relies on transplanted stem cells to replace those that are lost.
In a ground breaking clinical trial conducted by University of Irvine’s Stem Cell Research Centre, 18 patients had been given allogeneic mysenchymal stem cells (bone marrow cells by a donor) with various cell counts placed in the stroke damaged areas. None of the patients showed any signs that their bodies were rejecting and ALL patients showed improvement within 6 months. 2 patients in particular showed dramatic recovery with one from being wheelchair bound to be able to walk unaided. The report could be viewed here.
There are many ongoing efforts to understand how stem cell therapy is able to help people with stroke disabilities. One of the main centres is the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, where you can view the areas of research being conducted specifically to understand stroke disabilities.