A reserach team from Lund University, Sweden, has moved closer to developing stem cell treatment for stroke patients. The team has shown in their study that induced pluripotent stem cells can develop into mature nerve cells and treat post-stroke symptoms in rats. The study was published in the journal Brain.
The researchers used human skin cells to convert them into pluripotent stem cells. Then they transplanted them to animals affected by stroke where these cells developed into mature nerve cells in the cerebral cortex areas damaged by stroke two months post transplantation. As a result of transplantation, animals’ mobility improved.
Inspired with the results of an animal study, scientists hope that in the future they will be able to translate their findings into stroke treatments for humans. However, clinical trials are needed before these treatments can be applied to humans.
In Sweden only, annually stroke affects about thirty thousand people . Many of them will develop handicap with paresis and speech impairment and will have no chances for full recovery. This happens since after a stroke, nerve cells in the brain die and nervous connections are disrupted. If damaged cells could be replaced with healthy nervous cells, the post-stroke symptoms could be alleviated and impaired functions restored. If the method is developed further, the cells will be produced from skin cells of the patient.