Adult Stem Cells Safe and Feasible for Stroke Patients

By David Prentice

Dr. David Prentice

Adult stem cells are safe as well as feasible for treatment of stroke in patients, according to the published results of a ground-breaking Phase I trial from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Looking at ten patients in this first study, the researchers found no study-related severe adverse events, and while the study was not designed to determine effectiveness, the team found that most of the patients did better compared with matched untreated patients.

Dr. Sean Savitz, first author, said:

“In order to bring stem cells forward as a potential new treatment for stroke patients, we have to establish safety first and this study provides the first evidence in addressing that goal. Now we are conducting two other stroke cell therapy studies examining safety and efficacy, one of which can be administered up to 19 days after someone has suffered a stroke.”

Results of the study were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

Stroke is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States.

Doctors at Northwestern University have already shown that adult stem cells can relieve angina pain in heart patients.

About 850,000 U.S. heart patients have angina–chest pain caused by blocked coronary arteries–that persists despite available treatments. The study examined 167 patients with refractory angina; patients received either a low or high dose of their own adult stem cells injected into their damaged heart muscle, or a placebo injection. The results, published in the journal Circulation Research, showed that patients who received their adult stem cells experienced significant improvements in angina frequency and exercise tolerance.

In smaller previous studies reported in 2010, scientists in Florida and Brazil had found that adult stem cells injected directly into the heart could relieve angina in patients, and a Spanish group had also shown some improvement in angina patients’ symptoms.

Previous research has also show the ability of adult stem cells to shrink enlarged hearts and also long-term evidence that adult stem cells can treat chronic heart failure.

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