Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

STEMSTROKE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 37526
Funded under: FP6-LIFESCIHEALTH
Country: Sweden

Recovering lost brain function

Stroke refers to a condition caused by a sudden loss of blood supply to areas of the brain. Having made important progress in understanding and using stem cell therapy for the treatment of stroke-induced loss of function in humans, the results of an EU-funded project may soon offer relief to the millions of stroke patients worldwide.
Recovering lost brain function
The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and thus in the case of a stroke the function of the cells is compromised. Although stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and death in humans, we are still searching for effective treatments. One of the most promising areas of research related to recovery of function due to cell death is the use of stem cell therapies.

Stem cells are essentially precursor cells with which we all start out as embryos and that differentiate into all the other cells of the body. We have stem cells as adults, but far fewer. The ability to differentiate has made stem cells excellent candidates for cell replacement in the case of damaged cells, but their use requires understanding the mechanisms that help them to survive and differentiate into, for example, brain cells instead of kidney cells so that we can control their fate, so to speak.

The ‘Towards a stem cell therapy for stroke’ (Stemstroke) project was designed to study cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating neural stem cells (NSCs) after transplantation into rats with stroke-induced brain injuries and mechanisms regulating self-repair by the adult brain’s own NSCs.

The research team developed novel in vivo imaging methods as well as behavioural tests to be used in evaluating the human brain. Taken together, these methods help ensure that degree and location of both damage and subsequent recovery within the brain are well characterised. Of particular importance, the project team developed the protocol for a clinical study evaluating the relevance of experimental data to clinical trials.

Finally, the consortium developed a health economy model providing an estimation of the justifiable price of stem cell therapy based on the Swedish health care system. Simple adjustments to pricing could easily make the model applicable to other European healthcare systems.

The Stemstroke project made important advances in evaluating human stroke damage and recovery via stem cell therapy, offering the potential to bring the research out of the lab to the patient. It will no doubt have an important impact on research and clinical trials in the near future.

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