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Stem cell treatment reawakens limbs in wheelchair-bound stroke victim

January 22, 2017

While new tools have emerged to help rehabilitation along, the road back to a healthy life after suffering a stroke can be a long and challenging one. In research that could one day significantly cut recovery times for victims of these debilitating brain injuries, scientists have injected modified stem cells into the brains of patients and brought about substantial improvements to motor function, with one even regaining control of her limbs and leaving her wheelchair behind.

Around 15 million people suffer a stroke each year, according to the World Stroke Organization. The majority of these are classed as ischemic, which means that a clot has formed in a vessel carrying blood to a section of the brain to cut of its supply.

Immediate treatment to dissolve the clot in an ischemic stroke will boost the chances of a full recovery, but with only three or four hours to get to a hospital to have the clot-busting drugs administered, many victims miss this critical window and wind up sustaining lifelong disabilities.

In search of a way to improve the lives of these sufferers, scientists at Stanford University conducted a trial involving 18 stroke victims and mesenchymal stem cells, which are natural precursors to muscle fat, bone and tendon tissues, and can mature into multiple types of specialized cells in the body. These cells were modified to boost their ability to restore brain function.



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