Stem cells are increasingly used in therapies that involve tissue damage because they offer a promising way to replace lost cells and restore lost functions. Another advantage of stem cells over conventional therapies is the ability to use them days, weeks, or months after the stroke. Currently, most therapies for stroke need to be rapidly employed once a stroke starts to minimize the extent of the physical and functional damage.

Research has suggested that a number of different cell types could potentially be used to treat stroke patients, including stem cells from the brain and from bone marrow. In a study published in Stem Cells, researchers showed that a specific type of stem cell – human central nervous system stem cells grown as neurospheres or hCNS-SCns – have the potential to repair the brain after stroke.

The researchers focused on hCNS-SCns because these cells have shown promise in treatments for other disorders of the central nervous system and are currently being used in several clinical trials aimed at identifying the potential use of these cells in treating neurology patients. They neutralized a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor that is found in these cells. Their interest in vascular endothelial growth factor stemmed from the fact that this factor has been shown to be involved in the neurological recovery of stroke patients.

The team found that the vascular endothelial growth factor was a necessary contributor to the functional stroke recovery observed with hCNS-SCns. The use of these cells helped improve the integrity of the blood brain barrier and to suppress inflammation, both of which are critical in stroke recovery. The vascular endothelial growth factor also helped with the revascularization of damaged brain areas. While more research is needed to establish the potential use of hCNS-SCns in stroke, the current study suggests that these cells are a good therapeutic candidate. Further, because of the impact of these cells on inflammation and vascular degeneration, they may also be good candidates for therapies against other brain disorders that involve these types of pathologies.

To learn more about stem cell therapy for Post Stroke Syndrome, click here.

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