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Stem Cell Therapy Offers Promise for Stroke Patients

Two studies show that intravenous stem cell treament for stroke patients, in addition to being safe, can help their functional recovery. The studies were announced at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.

One study conducted by the researchers from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, covered 120 stroke patients 18 to 75 years old. Half of this group was intravenously treated with autologous stem cells derived from iliac crest bone marrow, the rest served as a control. The participants were followed-up for up to one year after the therapy, and the researchers monitored them for adverse effects and tumor formation.

The results of the study have shown the increase in the number of stroke patients who achieved assisted independence, though this increase was not statistically significant. In the group treated with stem cells, the share of such patients reached 71% compared to 63% in the control group (P=.17). The results tend to be better if the cells are injected at the second post-stroke week, though this also lacks statistical significance. As regards safety of the stem cell therapy, no increase in adverse events was observed (30 in the group treated with stem cells compared with 35 in control group).

The second study was designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy with autologous stem cells in 40 stroke patients. Like in the above mentioned study, this one also split the patients into two equal groups of stem cell recipients and controls.

The group treated with stem cells demonstrated significant improvement in everyday activities, including eating, dressing, mobility, compared with the control group (P=.05). Also, they had the activity of brain areas responsible for movement and motor function improved. Clinical, laboratory and radiological tests aimed to spot adverse effects were normal for the stem cell group. No mortality or therapy-related adverse effects were observed.