The results of a Phase I study published in Stem Cell Translational Medicine suggest that it is safe and feasible to infuse stem cells from banked umbilical cord blood into adults following an acute ischemic stroke. This research paves the way for additional studies into the efficacy of umbilical cord blood in treating stroke patients.
Stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 750,000 Americans suffering a stroke each year, of which 140,000 are fatal. Although a stroke can occur at any age, the risk increases dramatically for older Americans, more than doubling each decade after the age of 55. In fact, about 75 percent of strokes occur among individuals over the age of 65. The majority (85%) of strokes are ischemic, which occur when blood flow to a region of the brain is reduced beyond a critical threshold. In the event of an ischemic stroke, it’s critical to restore blood flow to the affected region as quickly as possible to minimize long-term damage.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells derived from umbilical cord blood (MSCs) have already been approved by the FDA to treat over 80 diseases, many of which are blood related. Due to their ready availability and advantages over bone marrow, cord blood derived stem cells have generated interest among researchers in exploring the potential for cord blood to treat other conditions, including ischemic stroke. Because umbilical cord stem cells are immunologically naive, they are less likely to trigger an immune response from an unrelated recipient and were found to be safe for further study.