Transplanted neuronal cells could reverse stroke damage

A phase one study in which cultured human neurons were transplanted into the brains of stroke victims offers hope that new methods could be developed to restore brain function.

By | August 24, 2000

LONDON, August 23 (SPIS MedWire)Laboratory-grown neuronal cells have been transplanted into the brains of stroke victims in an attempt to reverse stroke damage. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School gave transplants to 12 people who had suffered a stroke six months to six years previously (Neurology 2000, 55:565-569). They all had impaired mobility and in some cases a leg or arm was paralysed. Two million or six million neuron cells were transplanted into three sites within and around the stroke-damaged areas of the brain. The cells — LBS-Neurons — originated from human tumour tissue composed of embryonic-like cells that had undergone chemical treatment so that they divided rapidly into fully differentiated, non-dividing neurons. None of the patients experienced complications related to the transplant and six of the 12 showed substantially improved motor skills. Positron emission tomography scans also provided evidence that the transplanted cells were integrating well with the existing tissue. Lead researcher, Dr Douglas Kondziolka, said: "This study was designed to evaluate if it's feasible to put these cells into the brain and whether the process is safe. With these positive results, we can now move onto a larger study with more patients, to find out whether these transplants really help patients recover their lost abilities."

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