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Stroke Treatment Using Stem Cells Shows Early Promise In Controversial Trial

A controversial stem cell treatment for stroke is showing promising signs in the early results of a small safety trialSpeaking at an international conference last week, the researchers warn that it is still early days,

 but so far five of the six patients who have received doses of the stem cell shave shown some improvement and there have been no side effects.

The hope is that the treatment, by repairing damaged brain tissue, will one day helpstroke patients regain some movement and ability to speak. Even small improvements can make a big difference to a person who has been robbed of the ability to wash, dress and feed themselves.

The PISCES trial (Pilot Investigation of Stem Cells in Stroke) study, which is based in Scotland at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board, is the first in the world to evaluate genetically engineered neural stem cells in people with disabling ischemic stroke.

The researchers presented the interim results at the 10th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSR), which took place from 13 to 16 June 2012, in Yokohama, Japan.

The lead investigator of the trial is Professor Keith Muir, SINAPSE Professor of Clinical Imaging, Division of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Glasgow. He told the press:

"We remain pleased and encouraged by the data emerging from the PISCES study to date."

The Phase I trial, which started towards the end of 2010, and follows five years of repeated regulatory rebuffs, is testing the safety of ReN001, a genetically engineered neural stem cell line made by UK biotech ReNeuron. 

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