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Could stem cells heighten stroke recovery?

Could stem cells heighten stroke recovery?
20th June 2014

The implantation of different stem cells at the same time could lessen how much brain damage is brought about by a stroke.

Research undertaken at Shanghai Jiaotong University in China discovered this could be a potential treatment method for individuals who have a stroke, after its success on rodents. This approach also enhanced the behavioural recovery in these creatures. 

Scientists implanted neural and vascular progenitor cells simultaneously into rats and, as a control, some creatures were only given progenitor ones. These cells turned into the major types of vascular and brain cells, such as neurons that were fully functioning, which was an encouraging sign. 

It transpired the rats that had been been given both types showed less brain damage and improved behavioural performance on mobility tests after two weeks, in comparison to those who only had progenitor cells implanted. 

Wei-Qiang Gao of Shanghai Jiaotong University said: "Our findings suggest that early cotransplantation treatment can not only replace lost cells, but also prevent further deterioration of the injured brain following ischemic stroke. With the development of human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell technology, we are optimistic about the potential translation of our research into clinical use."

Mr Gao added that the cotransplantation method seemed to be more successful than just one cell stem, because the two types mutually supported each other to bring about recovery after a stroke. 

The ischemic stroke - the most common type - is brought about by a blood clot that obstructs or plugs a vessel in the brain. Time is crucial after this happens, as too long a delay could have disastrous consequences. Apart from a medicine known as tissue plasminogen activator - which can break up clots - no other treatments deemed clinically effective are currently in the arsenal of doctors.

While strokes are more common among those who are 65 years old and over, individuals of any age are susceptible to them.

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