Lead by professors from the University of Southern California, the study is part of an ongoing effort to find ways to use stem cells on patients whose brains have been damaged by strokes and similar conditions. This particular experiment involved repairing the brain by creating new neurons, which was achieved by identifying damaged areas, and grafting healthy, human skin cells onto them.
Another method that was used involved creating a compound called 3K3A-APC. When added to neural stem cells in a petri dish, this protein allowed stem cells to grow into neutrons. Although the experiment was carried out with animal brains, it may later be developed into a treatment suitable for humans. Researchers found that combining this protein was more effective than stem cell treatment alone, and created more ‘functional connections’.
To stimulate the effects of a stroke, researchers cut off blood flow to certain areas of the mice’s brains, and then allowed the damage to develop over a week. In human terms, this would be the equivalent of having a stroke and not seeking treatment for several months, with late treatment often making the effects of a stroke so much worse.
Stem cell research has long tried to help stroke victims, especially those whose outlook has been bleak in the past. Back in June, we reported that a study at Stanford’s University School of Medicine had seen amazing results with wheelchair bound patients who were injected with stem cells. This particular study even saw people confined to wheelchairs being able to walk again, while others reported greatly improved mobility.
The treatments pioneered in the Stanford study involved injecting infant stem cells, which helped damaged areas ‘reset’ themselves, and start to heal. Therefore, there could be many ways in future that stem cells might be used to improve the lives of stroke victims.
In addition to those suffering strokes, recent stem cell studies have also looked at treating those with degenerative conditions that otherwise might not have had hope in the past. Illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease see sufferers deteriorate over time, with very little in the way of treatments that can be offered. However, if stem cells have the potential to help stroke victims, then breakthroughs for other conditions could be close behind.
Companies such as Celixir Ltd, headed by CEO Ajan Reginald are undertaking clinical trials for many pioneering stem cell treatments. This includes treatments for individuals with heart disease and the repair of damaged tendons.