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Stem Cell Treatment May Help Stroke Patients

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 07:09 PM EDT

A new stem cell treatment for stroke has been in the works according to a new research.

"The results are promising and represent a very early but important step towards a stem cell-based treatment for stroke in patients," Olle Lindvall, senior consultant, professor of neurology and one of the scientists responsible for the study, said in a news release. "However, it is important to underscore that further experimental studies are necessary to translate these findings into the clinic in a responsible way."

According to researchers at Lund University, "Brain infarction or stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain, which leads to interruption of blood flow and shortage of oxygen."

For the study, researchers transplanted induced pluripotent stem cells into the cerebral cortex of rats that had a stroke in hopes that they could find a way to treat post-stroke symptoms which leave individuals handicapped. After two months, the stem cells developed into mature nerve cells.

Researchers found that "These nerve cells have established contact with other important structures in the brain," reports Lund. "The transplantation gave rise to improvement of the animals' mobility."

After a person has a stroke, nerve cells in the brain lose their capabilities, which is why often people develop paresis and speech problems. With the new treatment that has been discovered the dead brain cells can be replaced by fully functional ones.

"By using the method of induced pluriptotent stem cells we have been able to generate cells which express those markers which are typical for nerve cells in the cerebral cortex and we have also shown that the new nerve cells are functional," said Zaal Kokaia, professor of experimental medical research.

These findings are merely the beginning of a treatment that can be given to patients in the future.

"We need to know more about how well the new nerve cells are integrated into the cerebral cortex and communicate with other nerve cells," said 0Kokaia. "The magnitude of functional restoration also has to be improved."

The findings are published in the journal Brain.

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