Stem cell therapy and stroke

100,000 strokes happen in the UK each year – around 1 every 5 minutes[1]
Strokes are the leading cause of disability in the UK[1]
By the age of 75, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 6 men will have a stroke[1]
Around two thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with some form of disability.[1]
In the UK there are around 400 child strokes per year[1]
25% of stroke victims are under the age of 65[2]
The cost of strokes to the NHS is around £3 billion per year[3]

strokes happen
in the UK each year

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the brain’s blood supply is interrupted. Usually this is caused by a clot in a blood vessel supplying blood to part of the brain (ischaemic stroke). Strokes can also be caused by a blood vessel bursting and bleeding into the brain (haemorrhagic stroke).

In the UK, ischemic strokes account for 85% of stroke instances. The short- and long-term effects depend on where the stroke occurred in the brain and the size of the region that was harmed. These include weakness in arms and legs, issues with speech, comprehension, reading and writing, issues with swallowing, vision and headaches. These side effects can be deadly in about 1 in 14 stroke patients.

At present there are 1.2 million survivors of stroke in this country, and around two thirds of them leave hospital with some form of disability. It is a serious medical condition that has a lasting impact on the lives of patients and those caring for them.

Stem cell therapy research

As reported by the BBC[4], researchers have started the process of finding out how stem cell therapy could treat stroke victims and promote recovery. In 2016, 70-year-old Leonard McCourt became one of Britain’s first individuals to be treated with stem cells for a stroke. This clinical trial, known as PISCES II, has now been FDA approved for a phase 3 trial, sadly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial was terminated.[5].

Also in 2016, physicians at Stanford University in California conducted a breakthrough study into reversing the effects of stroke[6].

Professor Gary Steinberg or Stanford University commented:
“Patients improved by several standard measures, and their improvement was not only statistically significant, but clinically meaningful. Their ability to move around has recovered visibly. That’s unprecedented…This could revolutionise our concept of what happens after not only stroke, but traumatic brain injury and even neurodegenerative disorders.”

While researchers agree with the potential in this sector, more studies are still being performed to investigate the complete potential of stem cell therapy for stroke patients.

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