April 1, 2009 3:43:53 pm
Acute brain-stroke patients may no more have to depend on the sole drug used for their medication as doctors in US have launched an experimental study to therapeutically treat them with their own stem cells.
“We’re just at the beginning,but this could be an exciting new area of therapeutic intervention for stroke,” Dr Sean Savitz,a neurology professor and the study’s lead investigator said.
In its first trial last week,a team of doctors from University of Texas Medical School at Houston injected stem cells taken from bone marrow of a patient,who arrived at Memorial Hermann Hospital’s emergency department.
It was too late for the patient to receive tissue plasminogen activator,a clot-busting drug,which is the only treatment for strokes if given promptly,but only about 3 per cent of patients get the drug.
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Savitz said the trial was although open only to those who did not receive the drug,it could also be used on one-third of patients who get it but do not improve.
For the stem cell treatment,researchers will enrol 10 patients who have just suffered a brain stroke and are being treated at the Emergency department of the Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Centre.
Physicians will obtain permission from the patient or patient’s surrogate.
Brain stroke,is said to be the nation’s third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer,occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or severely reduced depriving the nervous tissue of oxygen and nutrients.
According to the American Stroke Association,nearly 800,000 Americans suffer each year,one every 40 seconds and on an average one dies every two or three minutes due to stroke.
Meanwhile,Savitz said the first patient of the stem cell treatment trial Roland Henrich,is stable and doing well,adding,though it is too early to attribute his condition to the treatment.
The stem cells will be harvested from the bone marrow in the iliac crest of the leg,then separated and returned to the patient within three to six hours. Rejection is not expected as the cells are the patient’s own.
The trial is part of phase-I study,aimed at establishing the procedure’s safety. Savitz said it should take about a year to enrol the 10 patients,who must arrive more than three hours after suffering a stroke,but within three days.
The study is based on two previous research projects conducted in US,which are still going on.
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