Stem cells replace stroke-damaged tissue in rats

March 9, 2009

Effective stem cell treatment for strokes has taken a significant step forward today as scientists reveal how they have replaced stroke-damaged brain tissue in rats.

The team of scientists is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and led by Dr Mike Modo of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. The work, carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry and , shows that by inserting tiny scaffolding with attached, it is possible to fill a hole left by damage with brand new within 7 days. The work is published in Biomaterials.

Previous experiments where stem cells have been injected into the void left by have had some success in improving outcomes in rats. The problem is that in the damaged area there is no structural support for the stem cells and so they tend to migrate into the surrounding healthy tissues rather than filling up the hole left by the stroke.

Dr Modo said: "We would expect to see a much better improvement in the outcome after a stroke if we can fully replace the lost brain tissue, and that is what we have been able to do with our technique."

Using individual particles of a called that have been loaded with , the team of scientists have filled stroke cavities with stem cells on a ready-made support structure.

Dr Modo continued: "This works really well because the stem cell-loaded PLGA particles can be injected through a very fine needle and then adopt the precise shape of the cavity. In this process the cells fill the cavity and can make connections with other cells, which helps to establish the tissue.

"Over a few days we can see cells migrating along the scaffold particles and forming a primitive brain tissue that interacts with the host brain. Gradually the particles biodegrade leaving more gaps and conduits for tissue, fibres and blood vessels to move into."

The research published today uses an MRI scanner to pinpoint precisely the right place to inject the scaffold-cell structure. MRI is also used to monitor the development of the new brain tissue over time.

The next stage of the research will be to include a factor called VEGF with the particles. VEGF will encourage blood vessels to enter the new tissue.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "Stroke is a leading cause of disability in industrialised countries. It is reassuring to know that the technology for treating stroke by repairing brain damage is getting ever closer to translation into the clinic. This crucial groundwork by Dr Modo and his colleagues will surely be a solid foundation of basic research for much better treatments in the future."

Joe Korner, Director of Communications at The Stroke Association commented: "This research is another step towards using stem cell therapy in treating and reversing the brain damage caused by stroke. It is exciting because researchers have shown they are able to overcome some of the many challenges in translating the potential of using stem cells into reality.

"The potential to reverse the disabling effects of stroke seems to have been proved. However the development of stem cell therapy for stroke survivors is still in the early stages and much more research will be needed before it can be tested in humans or used in practice.

"Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke and it is vital that we do all we can to help those affected by stroke."

Source: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Explore further: Stem cells decrease ischemic injury and restore brain function

Related Stories

Human stem cells aid stroke recovery in rats

February 20, 2008

Neural cells derived from human embryonic stem cells helped repair stroke-related damage in the brains of rats and led to improvements in their physical abilities, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University ...

Researchers identify a cell type that limits stroke damage

January 27, 2009

A research team including Serge Rivest of University Laval's Faculty of Medicine has demonstrated the existence of a type of cells that limits brain damage after a stroke. The study was recently published in the online version ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.