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World's First Producer To Repair Brain Damage From Stroke

Performed At The University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center

PITTSBURGH, July 1 -- On June 23, 1998, doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) performed the world's first cell transplant to reverse brain damage from stroke on a 62-year old woman with paralysis of the right leg and arm and loss of most speech.

This trial marks a transition in stroke medicine from prevention and damage-limiting efforts to restoration of lost brain function. While fetal human and fetal animal cell transplants have been tried for neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, with promising results, this is the first study to address neurological deficits from stroke.

It is also the first brain cell transplant to use tissue grown in the lab, avoiding the ethical issues arising from the use of fetal tissue.

"This trial opens the door to fuller recovery from stroke. While physical and occupational therapy helps many patients adapt to the damage their brain has suffered from stroke, neuron cell transplantation may allow patients to recover lost abilities," said Douglas Kondziolka, M.D., co-principal investigator for this study and professor of neurological surgery and radiation oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Kondziolka developed the study and is the surgeon performing the operations that are part of this cell transplant protocol.

"This is an exciting day in the treatment of stroke. Vigorous research to date has concentrated on prevention and ways to limit damage that has already occurred in the stroke patient's brain. If the phase I trial proves successful, the next step would be a multi-center trial," said Lawrence Wechsler, M.D., director of the UPMC Stroke Institute, professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a co-investigator on this trial.

"Use of manufactured cells to reverse brain damage removes the
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Contact: Mark Kanny
kanny@a1.isd.upmc.edu
(412) 624-2607
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
1-Jul-1998


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