It seems that stem cells might help in patients’ recovery after a stroke. Sonia Olea Coontz is one of them, as she had a stroke in 2011 that took its toll on her right leg and arm. Doctors injected modified adult stem cells into her brain as part of a clinical trial.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be more than safe as it also restored both her arm and leg motor function. The clinical trial was conducted by a team of researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine.
Doctors used a light anesthesia, so the patients were awake during the procedure which consisted in drilling a hole through their skull. Plus, it was so successful that all of them went home the next day. The only side-effect was that over 75 percent of them suffered from transitory headaches after the procedure.
Furthermore, the stem cells led to no consequences or dangerous adverse effects related to the clinical trial. According to Gary Steinberg, MD, Ph.D., chair, and professor of neurosurgery, because the results are outstanding, the trial will be extended.
However, Steinberg underlined that the trial was small and included only 18 patients with 12 conducted procedures. The primary target of the trial was to establish whether it is safe or not. Plus, it is great that patients’ ability to move around increased significantly at six months after the stroke.
Statistics show that around 800,000 people have a stroke every year in the United States. Worse, most of the stroke survivors have to live with various disabilities. Even if some lost functionality usually comes back, it remains limited. Moreover, only a small percentage of patients are provided with treatment during the acute phase of the stroke.
According to Steinberg, there are 7 million chronic stroke patients in the U.S., meaning that if the stem cells treatment proves to be effective on a large scale, it will become a revolutionary cure. Some 379 patients were screened for the trial and 18 of them were selected. The group had an average age of 61 years old. Steinberg underlined that most patients had a year since their stroke, and some of them could not even walk.
To help these patients neurosurgeons injected into their brains SB623 cells, known as mesenchymal stem cells originating from the bone marrow of two donors and modified afterwards to alter efficiently the ability of the cells to restore neurologic function.