Monday, 28 Jan 2008 12:56 Stroke
victims could see their condition improve after receiving stem cell transplants, two separate studies have concluded today.
Both studies saw transplanted stem cells successfully migrate and one noted significant reductions in cell death.
They are published today in the journal Cell Transplantation.
The first, carried out by Korean researchers, transplanted a type of stem cells into animals with stroke
and then tracked their progression through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at intervals up to ten weeks after transplant.
Dr Jihwan Song said cells showed indications of migration "as early as one or two weeks following transplantation" and at ten weeks the majority of the cells were detected in the core of the area deprived of blood supply.
He argued that the findings "will provide an important tool for developing novel stroke
In the second study, Canadian and Chinese researchers injected connective tissue cells into animals 24 hours after blood flow was blocked to parts of their brains.
Using laser canning to track markers attached to the cells, the scientists found that within seven days of the injection the cells had migrated into the scar area.
"The animals exhibited significant reductions in scar size and cell death and improvements in neurological function when compared to controls that received no BMSCs [tissue cells]," said lead author Dr Ren-Ke Li.
The researchers concluded that the intravenous delivery of bone marrow-derived cells may enhance tissue repair and the functional recovery after a stroke.
Commenting on the findings, Cell Transplantation associated editor De Cesar Borlongan said: "Both studies lend important support to a growing body of laboratory evidence that bone marrow is a remarkable adult stem cell source for transplant therapy following stroke.
"The non-invasive MRI visualisation of pre-labeled [tissue cells] could become a routine clinical marker for transplanted cells as well as for safety and efficacy."
About 150,000 people are estimated to have a stroke each year in the UK, causing 67,000 deaths.