In a world-wide first, a Glasgow hospital safely uses brain stem cells in a clinical trial to treat strokes.
Trial Gets Green Light
The first three patients at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital to have stem cells injected into their brain have been examined by an independent assessment, which concluded that the stem cells had no adverse effect on the patients.
At this green light, the clinical trial is set to move on to its next phase of testing, and expand its research. The goal is to find a new treatment for stroke, with the hope being that stem cells will help to repair brain tissue that sustained damage after a stroke.
The stem cell trial is led by Professor Keith Muir, of Glasgow University, who released a statement to the BBC saying: “”We need to be assured of safety before we can progress to trying to test the effects of this therapy. Because this is the first time this type of cell therapy has been used in humans, it’s vitally important that we determine that it’s safe to proceed – so at the present time we have the clearance to proceed to the next higher dose of cells.”
Expanding the Trials
Thus far, the patients have received very low dosages of stem cells, as the purpose of the trials were to test the safety of the procedure. In the next year, up to nine more patients will be given higher and higher doses, again for the purposes of assessing safety. Still, these clinical trials will be useful in measuring the effectiveness of the treatment as well, as eventually the research will go to larger trials.
Stem cell research and treatment is still in the early stages of development, and will not become widely available for many years. Michael Hunt, of the Reneuron Group responsible for the stem cell stroke treatment, says that “if everything goes very well,” this treatment could be available in five years. Still, as medical science continues to advance, the number of stem cell trials grows, among them trials to treat paralysis from the U.S. firm Geron.