The results of a small clinical trial offer hope for people left with motor impairment following a stroke, after finding that an injection of adult stem cells into the brain restored motor function for such individuals, to the extent that some patients regained the ability to walk.
Researchers found that injecting SB623 stem cells into stroke-damaged brain areas restored motor function for patients. Lead study author Dr. Gary Steinberg, professor and chair of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, CA, and colleagues published their findings in the journal Stroke.
While the trial only included a small number of stroke participants, the results have been met with much positivity, with some health experts claiming the findings could lead to “life-changing treatments” for stroke patients. For their study, the team enrolled 18 individuals – of an average age of 61 – who had experienced a first stroke 6 months to 3 years previously. All participants had motor function disability as a result of their stroke; some patients were unable to move their arm, while others were unable to walk.
Each patient underwent stem cell transplantation, which involved drilling a hole into the skull and injecting stroke-damaged areas of the brain with SB623 cells.SB623 cells are mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that have been taken from the bone marrow of two donors and modified to boost brain function.After the procedure, each patient was monitored through brain imaging, blood tests, and clinical evaluations.Within a month of the procedure, the researchers noticed that the patients started to show signs of recovery, and such improvements continued over several months.
On the motor function component of the Fugl-Meyer assessment – a stroke-specific impairment test – patients experienced an overall 11.4-point improvement. Furthermore, Dr. Steinberg notes that these improvements have been sustained for at least 1 year and more than 2 years for some patients.