Stem cell research has made tremendous advancements since doctors discovered that adult stem cells could be extracted from bone marrow and fat. By extracting cells from adults instead of fetuses and embryos, doctors have been able to skirt some of the ethical dilemmas previously associated with stem cell research. The use of adult stem cells has led to a tremendous growth in research, which has led to an increase in the overall number of clinical trials. This growth has given many doctors renewed enthusiasm about the potential for stem cells to treat patients with degenerative diseases. The doctors at our stem cell center are excited to share that researchers recently used adult stem cells to treat stroke victims, which yielded positive results for their patients.
During a stroke, victims often succumb to brain damage that results in difficulties with motor functions such as speech and walking. Doctors in both England and the United States conducted studies to see how injecting adult stem cells into a stroke victim’s brain affected recovery. The patients treated in the studies had strokes as recently as a week before treatment and as long as two years prior. After around six months of treatment, many patients saw dramatic progress in their recovery: all the patients in the study sample of six became independent and self-reliant by the trial’s end. Two patients in particular that could no longer talk after their strokes regained some of their ability to speak, as soon as the following day after treatment. Although some of the results from the study are quite dramatic and remarkable, it is important to note that clinical trials conducted at a stem cell centers are usually limited in how large of a study doctors can conduct. Besides each center having a small sample of patients, studies in both countries used stem cells extracted from bone marrow instead of from fat tissue. Since the Gulf Coast Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center uses adult stem cells taken from fat, it would be interesting to see how those cells would affect patient progress as compared to those studies that used bone marrow. Nonetheless, these two trials had positive outcomes for the patients, which will surely lead to more research with larger numbers of patients and a variety of stem cell sources.
Researchers have made great progress in not only learning how to obtain stem cells, but also in discovering new ways to use them for treatment. These trials add hope to the idea that one day a stroke may not necessarily mean the end of one’s independence. As doctors at stem cell centers learn how to use stem cells to effectively treat specific degenerative diseases, they will hopefully get closer to treating all debilitating diseases using these remarkable cells.