AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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Imaging Reveals New Results from Landmark Stem Cell Trial for Stroke

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Researchers led by Sean I. Savitz, MD, reported today that bone marrow cells used to treat ischemic stroke in an expanded Phase I trial were not only safe and feasible, but also resulted in enhanced recovery compared to a matched historical control group.

In addition, using serial diffusion tensor imaging, the repair of motor nerve tracts that extend from the brain through the spinal cord were captured for the first time in study participants, according to the team at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

“In the typical stroke injury, you can see the degeneration of the nerve tracts where it thins out,” said Savitz, director of the Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease and professor of neurology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “What surprised us was that after three to six months, we could see the tracts thicken up again in some patients. We do not typically see that same level of response in patients with such severe strokes but further research will be needed to determine if the return of the nerve tracts is because of the cell treatment or part of natural recovery.”

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