A new study has shown that stem cells may aid recovery in rats that have suffered a stroke. The study, published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy, found that stem cell treatments improved the amount of brain and nerve tissue that was repaired and increased the ability of the rats to complete behavioral tasks. Researchers used stem cells from both bone-marrow and fat tissue, and found positive results for each.
"Improved recovery was seen regardless of origin of the stem cells, which may increase the usefulness of this treatment in human trials," said Dr. Exuperio Díez-Tejedor, principal investigator in the neurology department at La Paz University Hospital. "Adipose-derived cells in particular are abundant and easy to collect without invasive surgery."
Though this type of research is promising for human patients, the researchers stated that questions regarding treatment protocols and which types of stem cells to use still need to be answered.
The rats in the study were injected with stem cells or saline 30 minutes after suffering a stroke. 24 hours after the stroke, the rats treated with stem cells had already shown a better recovery. Two weeks later the stem cell-treated rats had nearly normal scores on their behavioral tests.
The rats that received stem cells were also found to have higher levels of biomarkers linked to brain repair. This is despite of the fact that the stem cells "did not appear to migrate to the damaged area of the brain."