Stem Cells Therapies and Stroke
Are patients actually walking again?
Around 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States, 85 percent of all strokes are ischemic (a clot forms in a blood vessel supplying blood to part of the brain, with subsequent intensive damage to the affected area). After the event loss of function incurred depends on exactly where within the brain the stroke occurs, and on its magnitude.
According to the National Stroke Association, around 2 in every 3 stroke survivors will have some form of disability, and stroke is the leading cause of disability among American adults.
Although approved therapies for ischemic stroke exist, current treatments are very limited and usually have no benefits in chronic patients.
The “gold standard” treatment for ischemic stroke is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA); it works by dissolving the blood clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain. However for the treatment to be effective it must be applied within a few hours of the event – a time period that is often exceeded by the time it takes for a patient to arrive at the hospital.
Stem Cells treatment opened a new world of possibilities for patients that seemed to have no hope. Patients disabled by a stroke have demonstrated substantial recovery long after the event when modified adult stem cells were injected into their brains.
A professor and chair of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, CA, and colleagues publish the findings of a trial in the journal Stroke. While the trial only included a small number of stroke participants, the results were very positive. Some health experts considered the findings could lead to “life-changing treatments” for stroke patients.
At first the trial was designed to test the treatment safety, but patients improvement was statistically significant and clinically meaningful. Their ability to move around recovered visibly after more than six months of the stroke. Patients today are not expected to see any further recovery. This is something never seen before!
Injecting adult stem cells directly into the brains of chronic stroke patients improved their scores on a 100-point scale for evaluating mobility – with 100 being completely mobile – patients improved on average by 11.4 points (a margin considered to be clinically meaningful for patients). They also had improvements in strength, ability to walk, coordination, the ability to use hands and the ability to communicate.
The Newscientist published last June the story of a 71-year-old woman who could only move her left thumb at the start of the trial; “She can now walk and lift her arm above her head.” – Said a neurosurgeon at Stanford University
But how it works? Experts injected around 2,5 to 10 million stem cells taking from the bone marrow through a borehole in the skull into regions of the brain that control motor movements. “The cells seem to recover their ability to repair and their adaptability as in the brain of a baby,” – Said the expert
This is very encouraging news for the field of stem cell research and especially patients with established disability as a result of stroke, where this is no proven treatment to aid recovery.
Today there are around 30 similar trials in progress. The researchers believe that such a treatment may not be limited to stroke patients – it has the potential to treat a number of brain injury-related conditions. This could revolutionize our concept of what happens after not only stroke, but also traumatic brain injury and even neurodegenerative disorders.
Currently, the United States is still in clinical trial phase, therapies are not legally approved into the country yet, despite all the benefits achieved. That is one of the reasons why medical tourism is growing fast.
Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica is a pioneer in Stem Cells Treatment, Costa Rica ranks high as one of the top 5 Medical Tourist destinations in the world, receiving close to 45,000 medical tourists each year. We aim to help you get more information about stem cells therapies applications available for your specific need. Don’t hesitate to contact us. There is very interesting information in this field that we want to share with you.