Stem cell ‘first aid’ for rat stroke

Stem cell ‘first aid’ for rat stroke

Stem cells may be used to tackle many diseases like stroke

Stem cells given within the vital period immediately after a stroke may aid recovery, suggest researchers.

Rats injected with stem cells half-hour after a stroke had almost normal brain function restored within a fortnight.

The Bolivian research team say the tactic has potential in human trials.

Current best practice is to regard many patients with “clot-busting” drugs within the “golden hour” after a stroke has taken place.

The research, published within the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy, adds to others that have found that stem cells could aid stroke patients by boosting the body’s ability to fix tissue damage.

Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”, with the aptitude to become many alternative cell types, and theoretically replace cells lost through disease or injury.

Recent tests in humans have show some promise, with stroke symptoms improving after an infusion of stem cells.

The Bolivian team, from La Paz University Hospital, extracted a definite form of stem cells from fat and bone marrow, then injected them into the blood vessels of rats shortly when they had suffered an artificially-induced stroke.

Even though the introduced cells didn’t seem to travel to the affected region of the brain, the rats still did better than other rats who didn’t receive the cells.

Within 24 hours, they were already showing a speedier recovery, and two weeks later, they registered almost normal scores on behavioural tests.

Easy to use

The researchers said the early introduction of the cells might even interrupt the common “chain reaction” of tissue damage which follows a stroke, through which the initial injury harms additional cells in surrounding areas.

Dr Exuperio Diez-Tejedor, who led the research, said: “Improved recovery was seen despite origin of the stem cells, that can increase the usefulness of this treatment in human trials.

“Adipose (fat) -derived cells specifically are abundant and straightforward to gather without invasive surgery.”

The ease of collection, and the flexibility to exploit “allogenic” cells from other rats in preference to having to reap the animal’s own cells and culture them, meant a treatment was available not weeks after a stroke, when the wear and tear was done, but to that end minutes.

They wrote: “From the perspective of clinical translation allogenic stem cells are attractive because they are often easily obtained from young healthy donors, amplified, and stored for instant use when needed after a stroke.”

They suggested that it would be possible to conquer the danger of immune rejection of the donor cells in humans.

However, a spokesman for the Stroke Association said that human trials of this actual technique doesn’t be possible within the near future.

Dr Clare Walton said: “Stem cells are an extremely interesting area of stroke research and the result of this study provide further insight into their potential use for stroke recovery.

“However, we’re a ways off these kind of treatments getting used in humans and much more research is required.”