According to the CDC, strokes affect almost 800,000 people every year in the US, and of those about 140,000 die as a result – making it the fifth-leading cause of death in the country. For those that live, it’s no picnic. They face months of rehabilitation and there can be permanent brain damage that simple can’t be undone.
Enter a new, promising line of treatment using stem-cells.
The treatment has evolved from a London Study that used a particular set of CD34+ stem cells that triggered the growth of new brain tissue and blood vessels. A while later, a Stanford study was successful in restoring mobility of limbs of stroke victims when injecting stem cells into their brains.
The new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center and spinout startup ArunA Biomedical, also uses stem cells. Dubbed AB126, the treatment uses exosomes, tiny tube-shaped structures generated by neural stem cells. Since these structures are smaller than cells, they’re able to cross certain barriers that cells can’t, carrying and delivering multiple doses of regenerative therapeutics to where they’re most needed.
“This is truly exciting evidence, because exosomes provide a stealth-like characteristic, invisible even to the body’s own defenses,” says Steven Stice, lead researcher on the study. “When packaged with therapeutics, these treatments can actually change cell progression and improve functional recovery.”
When tested in animal models, the technique was found to reduce brain damage and help the brain heal itself faster, and the results have been promising enough that human clinical trials may follow as soon as next year.