Stem cells are God’s gift to humanity. People who had a stroke that has left them in a wheelchair participated in a small trial and they could walk again after being injected with stem cells into their brains.
Moreover, they also reported improvements in their arm movements and speech. Gary Steinberg, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University, was part of the team that performed the procedure on the 18 participants, and he saw impressive results.
“One 71-year-old woman could only move her left thumb at the start of the trial. She can now walk and lift her arm above her head,” Steinberg stated.
This second trial was run by SanBio of Mountain View, California, testing whether injecting stem cell into patients’ brains could ease the disabilities that often result from stroke.
The first, conducted by UK company ReNeuron, also showed statistically significant reductions in disability a year after receiving their injections and beyond.
In the latest trial, researchers reported that all patients showed improvements. On a 100-point scale for evaluating mobility – where 100 points means completely mobile – the patients’ situation improved on average by 11.4 points.
“The most dramatic improvements were in strength, coordination, ability to walk, the ability to use hands and the ability to communicate, especially in those whose speech had been damaged by the stroke,” Steinberg reported.
Prior to these trials, researchers believed the brain circuits affected by stroke were dead. Now, in light of recent results, a new thinking emerges; said circuits are simply inhibited by the heart event, and stem cell treatment can help disinhibit them.
For the study, participants underwent a procedure that involved having either 2.5, 5 or 10 million cells inserted in the brain through a borehole in the skull. The researchers targeted the brain regions that control motor movements, and which caused the patients to become disabled.
Surprisingly, “the cells change the adult brain so that it’s more like a baby’s brain, which repairs very well,” Steinberg explained. Once in the brain, they secrete all sorts of growth factors, aid repair, and encourage the immune system to get rid of the stroke-induced inflammation.
Some 30 similar trials are also in progress. There is still much to learn, but the latest trial brings clinical evidence suggesting stem cell treatment could prompt the recovery of people affected by stroke.
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