Promising results: safe stem cell delivery in stroke patients

Written by Elena Conroy

Pilot Imperial College study has successfully used a new and safe technique to aid recovery from stroke by delivering a patient’s own stem cells.

Doctors at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and scientist at Imperial College London conducted a pilot study in which 5 patients who suffered from a stroke received stem cells from their own bone marrow. The study, which was published online by Stem Cells Translational Medicine on the 8th of August, was the first human trial of this kind to date.

The cells in question were CD34+ stem cells which were isolated and injected into the arteries of patients that suffered from a severe case of ischaemic stroke. The side effects of the treatment were examined 6 months after treatment and resulted positive as all patients showed improvements in clinical scores and reductions in lesion volume. These are promising findings indicating that the treatment is safe.

Although successful, the study only used 5 people for this study. The authors took this into consideration and argued that the study was aimed to show the safety and feasibility, rather than the effectiveness, of the therapy. Furthermore, one needs to validate the effectiveness of the stem cell treatment, as the improvements could have been the natural path of post-stroke recovery.

The results are positive, but how valuable are these findings given the small sample number? What’s the next step for the development of this treatment?

See the full press release here