Indian stem cell treatment gives hope to stroke patients

Stem Cell

For the first time, Indian researchers claimed to have successfully used stem cells to treat brain damage resulting from stroke in mice, thus taking a step nearer to give hope to stroke patients suffering from permanent paralysis, disability and dependence on others.

"We found that stem cells, developed by us, when injected in the damaged portion of the brain did trigger development of new brain cells without any life-threatening side-effects," S Prabhakar, head of the department of neurology, PGI Chandigarh said.

"This is the first time that interactions between the two kinds of cells (injected cells and host cells) worked out," he said.

Five centres across the country, including AIIMS, are conducting studies on the stem cell treatment of stroke, according to Prabhakar.

Brain stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot or bursts, causing the brain to starve.

"If deprived of oxygen for even a short period of time, the brain cells begin to die. Once this happens the part of the body controlled by that section of the brain is affected, causing paralysis," M V Padma, a neurologist at AIIMS, said.

Human trials for the study will begin this month. "From January onwards the trials in human being will start. In our experiment we wanted that once the stem cells were injected, it should reach and form new cells in the damaged destination and it really did." Prabhakar said.

There are two types of strokes. In the first, blood clots in vessels leading to blocking of the arteries in the brain. The second type occurs when a blood vessel ruptures causing a bleeding also known as hemorrhagic stroke.

There are also "mini-strokes" which is often ignored and which if left untreated will lead to full blown strokes.

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