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Transplanted stem cells restore function in stroke

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL--Researchers at the University of Minnesota department of neurosurgery and Stem Cell Institute (SCI) have demonstrated the ability of transplanted adult stem cells to restore function in laboratory animals with stroke. Stem cells were isolated and expanded from human bone marrow and transplanted into laboratory rats seven days after an ischemic stroke injury to the brain. Before transplantation, rats were unable to properly use forelimbs and hind limbs. Weeks after receiving stem cell transplants, the animals regained proper use of their limbs. The study is reported in the March 2002 issue of Experimental Neurology.

Walter Low, Ph.D., a professor of neurosurgery, was the principal investigator for the study. Other investigators were Li-Ru Zhao, M.D., a research associate in the department of neurosurgery, Catherine Verfaillie, M.D., director of the Stem Cell Institute, and Morayma Reyes, a medical and doctoral student in the Medical School.

Previous studies from these investigators demonstrated that adult stem cells isolated from human bone marrow could be induced to differentiate into different types of cells when grown in tissue culture. In the present study, the transplanted stem cells were found to develop into cells that exhibited the characteristics of neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendroglia, the major types of cells found within the brain. These findings suggest that stem cells obtained from adult bone marrow may be useful as a source of cells to repair the brain and restore function in patients who have suffered a stroke.

"The ability of bone marrow stem cells to differentiate into cells that are typically found in the brain and restore function in laboratory animals with stroke holds promise for people who have experienced a stroke," said Low. "However, there are many additional studies on these stem cells that need to be conducted before we can consider initiating any clinical trial.

"The next steps
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Contact: Deane Morrison
morri029@umn.edu
612-624-2346
University of Minnesota
4-Mar-2002


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