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Stem cell transplants improve recovery in animal models for stroke, cerebral palsy

core," Dr. Borlongan said. "But outside of that core there is a lining, what we call the penumbra, and that penumbra, if you do not treat it over time, becomes part of the core. We are showing, that even one week after a stroke, we are able to increase the number of cells surviving along that penumbra and that is how we feel it is producing significant recovery, by rescuing cells within the penumbra."

Animals in the model of cerebral palsy, a condition caused by an ischemic injury similar to stroke but occurring before or during birth, also experienced at least a 25 percent improvement over controls. Rodent stem cells were used in this model, a larger percent of donated cells survived and within two weeks matured into neurons in the young, more pliable brains, Dr. Borlongan said. Also, close donor matching seemed unnecessary. Unmatched transplants, from the same species, and gentically identical transplants yielded essentially equal results. Athersys, Inc., a Cleveland-based biopharmaceutical company pursuing cell therapy programs in cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and other diseases, funded the research in which previously frozen human or rodent multipotent adult progenitor cells, which the company calls MultiStemTM, were thawed and injected directly into the brain.

Researchers believe that MultiStemTM cells are able to deliver a therapeutic benefit in multiple ways, for example by producing factors that limit tissue damage and stimulate repair, according to Dr. Gil Van Bokkelen, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. In addition, MultiStemTM cells can safely mature into a broad range of cell types and can be produced on a large scale, something which should ease the move toward clinical studies and eventual clinical use. "Given the number of stroke victims each year, it would be a big step forward if a safe and effective stem cell therapy could be produced, conveniently stored,
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
7-Apr-2006


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