Clinical trial involving stem cells gives ray of hope to stroke patients

A recent Scottish stem-cell therapy trial has given a ray of hope of recovery to 5 severely disabled heart stroke patients.

This therapy trial was conducted by Glasgow University professor, Keith Muir, who said the results of the trial were, “not what we would have expected”, on a group of heart stroke patients who had shown no improvement whatsoever, when the trial was conducted earlier.

However, for the professor it was way too early to determine whether the patients were recovering from the course of treatment they had been receiving.

Clinical Trial:
In the clinical trial, the stem cells were directly injected into the damaged parts of the patient’s brain, hoping that they would transform themselves into healthy tissue thus enabling the bodily functions to work efficiently.

To establish the trial’s safety, as part of the trial, 9 patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s were taking part at the Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital.

Former teacher, Frank Marsh, a heart stroke patient suffering since last 5 years, was among the few patients participating in the trial, who showed immense improvement.

The heart stroke had weakened his body immensely and he had poor strength and coordination in his left hand, thus requiring a walking stick to move around easily around the house.

Being part of the clinical trial at the Glasgow’s Southern General hospital, the 80- year- old Frank confidently stated that, the trial had shown drastic improvements in the usage of the left hand.

“I can grip certain things that I never gripped before, like the hand rail at the baths, with my left hand as well as my right,It still feels fairly weak and it’s still a wee bit difficult to co-ordinate but it’s much better than it was.”, said Frank Marsh.

Hoping to the improvement on a long term basis, Frank Marsh added, “I’d like to get back to my piano. I’d like to walk a bit steadier and further.”

Injecting the stem cells into the damaged part of the brain also saw his mobility and his balance improving. His wife had left all hopes of his recovery as his condition was just the same in the last five years.

However, post trial he has been able to do things like making coffee, dressing up n his own and holding on things which was impossible earlier, added his wife.

Patients who had shown no signs of improvement since the time of the stroke were part of the trial. The research study involving such patients confirmed that injecting stem cells could help.

There were a number of findings of the clinical trial. The implications of the study are as follows:
1) Researchers Muir and his colleagues were extremely pleased by the trial results and how it had effected the lives of the long impending heart stroke patients. Muir said, “The data to date identify no safety issues with the ReN001 treatment – which is the primary focus of this phase one trial. The evidence of functional improvement requires further investigation in a suitably designed phase two efficacy study and we look forward to being a principal clinical site in that study when it commences.”

2)The results achieved from the study was not what the researchers had expected. Mr Muir said, “at the present time not what we would have expected in this group”, however whether the improvements were correlated to the cell therapy is still not known.

3) Muir and his colleagues concluded saying that they were sure that some of the damaged cells would transform into relevant healthy tissue. Muir added, “We know some of the cells will survive and potentially turn into relevant tissue.”

4) The study also confirms that the cell therapy initiates the repair processes in the brain, thus enabling the functions of the body. Muir said, “We also suspect a large part of what we do is kick-starting repair processes that are already present in the body.”.

Finally the research study concludes saying that the improvement in the lives of the stroke patients is from the stem cells which are created from a 10 year old sample of nerve tissue.

ReNeuron, the company that produces the cells, is capable of producing ‘n’ number of stem cells from its original sample.

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