New stroke treatment has positive results

A new treatment for strokes is producing its first results and so far doctors have reported a positive response. Six patients received insertions of human stem cells into damaged brain cells and they reported limb weaknesses and other problems to be slightly reduced.

The most dramatic result was one patient who received stem cells from an aborted baby and partially regained his speech. Doctors have expressed caution however as the trial is in its early stages and judgement should be reserved until all the findings have been published.

Glasgow neurologist Professor Keith Muir, of Glasgow University is leading the trial which is being held at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. The six patients in the trial all had weaknesses in their limbs and have had strokes in the last five years.

The trial used the stroke scale from the National Institute of Health to rate participants in the trial. One patient has just started the trial but the other five patients received a median rating of eight before the trial and an average of four points afterwards, a significant improvement.

Professor Muir found the results intriguing but was not forming any early conclusions. He was well aware that during trials a patient’s condition may change and improvements could be because of other factors or even be psychological.

The early positive results from the trial were unexpected so there was much encouragement to be gained from the stem cell trial. Ongoing tests would be needed before conclusive judgement could be reached about the effectiveness of the treatment.

The spokesman for the company behind the treatment, chief executive Michael Hunt stressed this first trial was more about safety issues and developing protocols. Mr. Hunt added that any apparent benefits from the trial needed to be viewed with “considerable caution.”