A PIONEERING new stem cell treatment could bring new hope to stroke sufferers with disabilities, a study suggests.
As part of a medical trial by Scottish doctors, patients who had been disabled by a stroke took part in a procedure where their brains were injected with stem cells.
Some then showed “significant” effects with some even regaining some movement and co-ordination as a result.
The procedure was carried out on 11 male stroke victims in Glasgow who had volunteered after being left with long-lasting disabilities.
The doctors say that the study prompts further investigation, and are now offering it to other patients as part of their trials.
The trial was led by Professor Keith Muir of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow and scientists from leading, clinical-stage stem cell business, ReNeuron.
Professor Muir said in the Sunday Mail: “These were individuals who were strongly motivated to do something to get better as this was extreme brain surgery and experimental.
“Their families were very supportive, as they recognised the restricted lives the patients were living, but they were also very anxious.
“The main motive was to look at the safety of the procedure, but also how the patients got on afterwards.
“We chose patients in whom we did not expect to see an improvement but nonetheless some of them did get a bit better and they stayed better.
“That was enough for us to see that there is something here worth pursuing.
“There were patients who did not experience any change.
“But some reported changes, for example, in their ability to move their fingers, in their ability to balance and go from sitting to standing, and in their co-ordination.
“They were less dependent on other people in their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks like feeding, getting up the stairs, walking and dressing.
“The effects were subtle and varied — however, in some cases they were significant.”
Dr John Sinden, chief scientific officer at ReNeuron, said it was a “big step forward”.
He added: “The stem cells appear to be triggering a repair process within the brain, by switching on its natural repair process so that it was making new blood cells and new nerve cells.”
Dr Shamim Quadir, of the Stroke Association, said: “We welcome the latest findings. We now look forward to the results of the larger and ongoing study which could increase our understanding of the potential benefits of this therapy.”
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