One of the goals of regenerative medicine is to find a way to help repair the damage caused by strokes. A stroke occurs in two different forms: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic strokes are characterized by:
Hemorrhagic strokes are characterized by:
In both types of strokes, it is not uncommon to see large areas of damaged or dead brain tissue due to either type of stroke, which causes permanent damage.
Where strokes wreak havoc today, the future of stem cell research is developing solutions for tomorrow to repair the damage done and someday provide protection against future strokes. Stem cell storage is now putting patients at the forefront of using their adipose derived adult stem cells in upcoming medical treatments as they are developed.
According to a massive collaborative study published in the journal Nature Communications, neural cells called astrocytes are the main focus on developing treatments methods. Astrocytes transport key nutrients and form the blood-brain barrier. These cells are capable of reducing disability associated with strokes and protecting the brain tissue from many other ischemic brain disorders and the damage they can cause.
“Astrocytes are often considered just ‘housekeeping’ cells because of their supportive roles to neurons, but they’re actually much more sophisticated,” said Wenbin Deng, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at UC Davis and the author of this study. “They are critical to several brain functions and are believed to protect neurons from injury and death. They are not excitable cells like neurons and are easier to harness. We wanted to explore their potential in treating neurological disorders, beginning with stroke.”
This study demonstrates the potential of stroke treatment, even in its infancy. Although use of these astrocytes has not been specifically investigated within the context of stroke damage repair, theoretically, given the discovery of functionality that these astrocytes are capable of, there is huge potential for what the future of stem cells may bring.
The next steps for astrocyte use are to be able to create them at a purity level suitable for stem cell therapies and understand the links between astrocytes and brain damage repair.
After astrocyte functionality and usage within the brain damage repair context is adequately understood and applied, the potential for stroke victim recovery is virtually endless. There is amazing promise for stroke victims after this study and judging by the recent rate of breakthroughs being made in the world of regenerative medicine, this potential could eventually turn into a real hope for stroke victims.
At UC Davis, their clinical trials are centered around the knowledge that “adult stem cells are the ‘paramedics’ of the body.’” They have observed during clinical experiments that these cells have proven to quickly repair areas of tissue damage, reestablish blood supply to injured tissue, reduce tissue swelling, and repair scarring in animal subjects tested.
They are now concentrating on clinical trials using adult stem cells to treat specific conditions in the eyes, heart, vascular system, bones, and central nervous system.
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Blog post written by John DiFolco.