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Stem cells for stroke patients

The team of doctors at Glasgow's Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology used stem cells for brain injection for a stroke patient, says Guardian. This is the world's first clinical trial of stem cell injection into brain of stroke patients.

The patient, who got severe disability due to the stroke he suffered 18 months ago, was transplanted about 2 millions of fetal brain stem cells into his healthy part of a brain. These cells are expected to produce new neurons and blood vessels and to reduce inflammation in the impaired part of the brain. The treatment showed good results on animal models.

The researchers plan to treat in the trial 11 more male stroke patients aged 60 to 85 using higher doses of stem cells—5mn, 10mn and 20 mn. During the operation requiring a general anaestetic, the cells will be transplanted to patients having suffered the most common stroke type—ischaemic stroke resulting from a blocked blood vessel. The patients will be followed-up two years after the operation to make conclusions on the safety of the method and treatment effects . The doctors will monitor the patients' condition in order to determine whether the treatment helps recovery from stroke.

The stem cells used for operation are derived from a twelve-week old fetus. As they have already been programmed to develop into brain cells, their injections pose no cancer risk to the patients.

Being a first trial of stem cell brain injections in stroke patients, this is not the pioneer trial of this type of injections overall. The first took place in 2006 in Oregon, when children with fatal Batten disease received stem cell injections into their brains. The treatment proved to be safe.