Human stem cells aid stroke recovery in rats

February 20th, 2008 - 10:43 am ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 20 (IANS) In what is billed as a first, researchers using human embryonic stem cells to generate neural cells in the lab have found that they helped repair stroke related damage to a rat’s brain. The study, by researchers at Stanford University, said it showed the potential for using stem cell therapies in treating strokes in humans.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of PLoS ONE journal.

“Human embryonic stem cell-based therapies have the potential to help treat this complex disease,” said Gary Steinberg, senior researcher of the study, along with neuroscientist Ronni Lacroute.

He expressed the hope that cells from this study could be used in human stroke trials within five years.

To push human embryonic stem cells - which can form any cell type - to form neurons rather than other types of cells has been a hurdle. Another has been avoiding the cells’ tendency to form tumours when transplanted.

As part of the study, the research team managed to ensure that even after six months in a lab dish, neural stem cells continued to form only the three families of neural cells - neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes - and no tumors.

These were then transplanted to the brains of 10 rats with an induced form of stroke where they helped repair the damage caused by the stroke.

Describing the cells as “in unlimited supply and very versatile”, the study holds out the hope of soon treating damage caused by human strokes.

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