By Dave Andrusko
National Right to Life
I was pleased but not surprised at the response to “Ethically sound stem cells provide “meaningful” recover in stroke victims” that ran yesterday in NRL News Today. Good news sometimes really does travel fast.
The research at Stanford University School of Medicine is so encouraging and potentially applicable to such a wide range of disorders that I thought I’d take a second pass, and in so doing address a couple of questions that came up.
A brief summary. One of the “givens” for researchers forever and a day is that after a certain point in time, the brain will not regenerate. In the research, which was reported on yesterday in the journal Stroke, 18 patients who had suffered strokes between six months and three years previously, allowed surgeons to bore holes in their skulls and inject adult stem cells from the bone marrow of two donors into the damaged areas.
In our post yesterday, I don’t think I did justice to how much improvement the patients had made. According to the story written by Sarah Knapton, Science Editor for the Telegraph.
“The remarkable recovery we saw in many of these chronic stroke patients was quite surprising,” said Prof Gary Steinberg, Chair of Neurosurgery at Stanford, who has spent 15 years researching stem cells.
“This wasn’t just ‘they couldn’t move their thumb and now they can’. Patients who were in wheelchairs are walking now. Their ability to move around has recovered visibly. That’s unprecedented.
Dr. Steinberg told New Scientist, “One 71-year-old woman could only move her left thumb at the start of the trial,” adding, “She can now walk and lift her arm above her head.”