The cord blood cells survived, migrated to the areas of the brain injured by the stroke and improved the rats' motor and sensory abilities, even when administered a week after the onset of stroke, the researchers report in this month's issue of the journal Stroke. The cord cells included a significant number of stem cells immature. undifferentiated cells with the potential to become any cell in the body, including neurons.
"The study suggests that human umbilical cord blood may be a noncontroversial, more readily available source of therapeutic cells for treating early stroke and other traumatic brain injuries," said Paul Sanberg, PhD, DSc, director of the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair and a senior author of the report. "It's exciting because it means that IV administration of stem cells, a less invasive procedure than neurosurgical implantation, may be an effective option in the early stages of brain injury."
Dr. Sanberg emphasized that the research is young, and studies in humans are still a few years away.
The researchers are unsure exactly how the cord blood cells promote such early functional recovery, but they suspect that the cells release growth factors that prompt the brain to repair damaged tissue.
Human umbilical cord blood stored following the birth of babies has been used on a limited basis to successfully treat certain childhood leukemias, but little is known about its potential benefit for central nervous system disorders. Stem cells from cord blood, as well as those found in adult bone marrow, skin and muscle, are being investigated as an alternative to human embyronic stem cells for the treatment of stroke o
Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
University of South Florida Health