A yearlong study of stroke patients has found that stem cells from a patient’s bone marrow can be safely infused in the brain through the carotid artery to promote recovery. Researchers at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine followed 48 patients, more than half of whom who were treated using stem cells, and found recovery along with no adverse side effects when compared with their counterparts.
“The primary aim of this first U.S. trial of giving stem cells through the carotid artery was really safety: to establish safety beyond a good measure of doubt,” Dr. Dileep Yavagal, associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and faculty member at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, told FoxNews.com.
“The main concern that needed to be settled was that these cells by themselves could lead to decreased blood flow in the brain because they are live cells and they do occupy some space – a few microns each— and in laboratory studies, the concern had been raised that when you give them directly into the carotid artery, they can cause plugging,” Yavagal, also the director of interventional neurology and co-director of endovascular neurology said. “The study showed that that did not occur.”
In the trial, bone marrow from the patients was taken to an outside facility for about a 48-hour period in which the stem cells were separated and then shipped back to the procedure site to be infused. Of the 48 patients, 29 received the stem cells, while 19 received a placebo. The patients who received the cells were under conscious sedation as the cells were infused through a catheter in the groin area, up to the internal carotid artery in the brain. Each patient received the treatment within an average of 15 days after their stroke. Yavagal said each patient was given a relatively low dose to ensure the safety of the trial.