Researchers use stroke patient's own stem cells in trial for first time

Apr 15, 2009

For the first time in the United States, a stroke patient has been intravenously injected with his own bone marrow stem cells as part of a research trial at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Roland "Bud" Henrich, 61, was transferred to Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center on March 25 after suffering a stroke while working on his farm in Liberty. He arrived too late to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the only treatment for ischemic strokes. He became the first patient in the trial.

The Phase I safety trial, funded with a pilot grant from The National Institutes of Health and support from the Notsew Orm Sands Foundation, will enroll nine more patients who have suffered a stroke and can be treated with the stem cell procedure within 24 to 72 hours of initial symptoms.

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blockage or a rupture in an artery, depriving of oxygen. It is the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year - one every 40 seconds. On average, someone dies of stroke every three to four minutes.

"It's still very early in this safety study, but this could be an exciting new therapeutic approach for people who have just suffered a stroke," said Sean Savitz, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the medical school and the study's lead investigator. "Animal studies have shown that when you administer after stroke, the cells enhance the healing. We know that stem cells have some kind of guidance system and migrate to the area of injury. They're not making new but they may be enhancing the repair processes and reducing inflammatory damage."

Savitz said animal studies have shown that the healing effects of stem cells can occur as early as a week but cautioned it is too early to attribute Henrich's improvement to the stem cell treatment. "I'm hoping he will get better and it will be because of the cells, but it's just hope at this point," Savitz said.

The stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow in the iliac crest of his leg, then separated and returned to Henrich several hours later. Because they are his own stem cells, rejection is not expected to be an issue.

When he arrived at the hospital, Henrich could not speak and had significant weakness on his right side. When he was released after nearly two weeks of hospitalization and rehabilitation, he was able to walk and climb stairs unassisted and said his first words.

His wife, Reba Henrich, said she believes the stem cells have helped. He has spoken a few times with a single word or a phrase since his return home. "Too crowded," he told her at a megastore as they shopped for Easter gifts for their grandchildren and "senior" meal he told a waitress at a local restaurant. He also has fed the cows by himself, she said. They are hopeful he will eventually be able to return to his job as a painter.

"This study is the critical first step in translating laboratory work with stem cells into benefit for patients. If effective, this treatment could be helpful to a huge segment of patients to reduce their disability," said James C. Grotta, M.D., Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Distinguished Professor of Neurology and chair of the Department of Neurology at the medical school. "We are fortunate here at UT Houston and the Texas Medical Center to have the resources needed to carry out this work, and to have attracted someone of Dr. Savitz's caliber to lead this study."

Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (news : web)

Explore further: Hearing quality restored with bionic ear technology used for gene therapy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stem cells to be injected into the heart

Aug 26, 2005

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will begin a clinical trial to determine the feasibility of injecting a patient's own stem cells into the heart.

Stem cell therapy grows new blood vessels

Apr 06, 2009

Research led by David Hess of the Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario has identified how to use selected stem cells from bone marrow to grow new blood vessels to treat diseases such as peripheral ...

Recommended for you

LED exposure is not harmful to human dermal fibroblasts

20 hours ago

There was a time when no one thought about light bulbs—one blew, you screwed another one in. Nowadays, it's more complicated, as energy efficiency concerns have given rise to a slew of options, including ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Rising role seen for health education specialists

(HealthDay)—A health education specialist can help family practices implement quality improvement projects with limited additional financial resources, according to an article published in the March/April ...

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.