NEW ORLEANS, Feb 22 ( Reuters Health) - In a phase I trial, neural cells have been safely transplanted into the stroke foci of 12 patients, neurologists and transplant surgeons from the University of Pittsburgh reported here at the 25th International Stroke Conference of the American Stroke Association.
Dr. D. Kondziolka and colleagues presented 6-month data on nine men and three women whose strokes were confined to the basal ganglia or the basal ganglia and regional cortex. The mean age of the group was 61, and at the time of transplantation the mean time since stroke was 27 months. All patients were neurologically stable at the time of surgery.
In the first four patients, the investigators implanted 2 million neurons in three sites in the basal ganglia. The other eight patients were randomized to receive either 2 million or 6 million cells in the stroke foci. All patients received cyclosporin for 1 week before transplantation and for up to 8 weeks after.
All 12 patients are alive 6 months after transplantation, the researchers told meeting attendees. There has been no evidence of hemorrhage on CT scan and there have been no new acute neurologic deficits. Eight patients have reported subjective improvement, including increased strength, sensation and coordination.
Six patients have had improvements on the European Stroke Scale ranging from 3 to 10 points, primarily in motor function. Three patients have had no change from baseline and three patients have had a slight deterioration in neurologic status. The seven patients who improved on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale showed gains of 1 to 3 points.
The Pittsburgh team concluded that neurotransplantation in stroke is safe and feasible and that further studies are warranted.