The patient came to the hospital last Wednesday, too late to receive clot-busting drugs to treat the stroke, according to a news release about the procedure. So doctors decided to try a therapy they are investigating as part of a clinical trial with the University of Texas Medical School at Houston: using stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow. The adult stem cells — not controversial embryonic stem cells — came from marrow in the patient’s leg. The theory of how they work is that the stem cells migrate to the area of injury in the brain to do repairs, according to the release.
“The patient is recovering remarkably well and has not shown any signs of paralysis,” the release says. “He remains in the hospital under observation, but will be discharged later this week.”
When UT announced the study last month, researchers said they would enroll 10 patients who had just suffered a stroke and were being treated in the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann.
While this reportedly is the nation’s first procedure to use stem cells to treat a stroke patient, it is not the world’s first such procedure. That was done in Germany, also as part of a clinical trial, according to a report from The (London) Times Online.
That patient was a 49-year-old stroke victim who also received stem cells, though not his own. They were genetically engineered stem cells, like those found in bone marrow. The report said that patient was doing well.
If these trials conclude successfully, they could provide new hope for thousands of people who suffer debilitating strokes every year.