Treatment Derived from Stem Cells May Mean New Hope for Stroke Sufferers
Posted on February 23, 2018
A new treatment from the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center may help lessen brain damage associated with stroke.
The treatment called AB126 was developed in conjunction with ArunA Biomedical, a UGA startup company, and Augusta University. It aims to reduce brain damage caused by stroke and has promoted the brain’s natural healing abilities in animal models.
The procedure uses exosomes, an extracellular vesicle structure released from human neural stem cells when they fuse with the plasma membrane.
Researchers chose exosomes because of their ability to assimilate into the bloodstream quickly. Exosomes also can cross barriers that cells cannot, making them useful for the delivery of multiple doses of regenerative treatments to the brain.
These treatments aid in cell repair and increase the likelihood of functional recovery.
The breakthrough is exciting to researchers because exosomes are undetected by the body, which means a reduced chance of being rejected or attacked by the immune system.
Researchers tested AB126 on rodents and pigs.
MRI scans used to measure the impact of stroke show that after using AB126 show a 50 percent reduction in brain tissue loss. The scans also showed about a 35 percent decrease in the size of injury caused by stroke.
“When a stroke occurs, the blood and oxygen supply to the brain is cut off. This results in serious damage to surrounding brain tissue,” said Dr. Joel Singer.
Singer is a New York physician who treats individuals who have experienced stroke using adipose fat stem cell therapy.
“The ability to repair damage to the brain after a stroke is critical to improving cognition and lost function,” Singer said.
Many individuals affected by stroke experience difficulty walking, weak or stiff muscles, paralysis on one side of the body, coordination problems, and overactive reflexes.
“Other impacts of stroke include difficulty speaking, changes in vision, numbness and confusion. These side effects may be temporary or can linger on for the rest of the individual’s life, seriously impacting the quality of how they live,” Singer said.
The results of this pre-clinical test have encouraged ArunA Biomedical researchers to move forward with plans to start testing the treatment in humans in 2019.
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. and affects around 795,000 people each year. Nearly 140,000 people die each year from stroke.
Nearly 75 percent of all strokes happen to people over the age of 65.
Many of those individuals live in Georgia, which has a higher-than-average number of stroke deaths. Georgia is one of 11 states that make up the “stroke belt,” where the risk of stroke is 34 percent higher than the rest of the country.
In addition to Georgia, the states that make up the “stroke belt” are Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana and Virginia.
Researchers believe that higher-than-average rates of obesity, high blood pressure and smoking contribute to the higher risk of stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease in those states.
ArunA also revealed recent advances in the company’s proprietary neural cell platform used to produce exosomes. ArunA’s production capabilities mean that they will be able to provide enough of the extracellular vesicle structures to meet the needs for human clinical trials.
ArunA also hopes to expand the application of their exosome treatment to other medical conditions including epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
“The ability to heal tissues damaged by stroke or another type of injury to the brain can greatly improve health outcomes for many people,” Singer said.
University of Georgia. “New stem-cell based stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue: Human clinical trials could begin as early as next year.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2018.