Stem Cells May Give Hope To Patients With Severe Stroke Disability Interview with:
Dr Soma Banerjee M.D.
Department of Stroke Medicine
Imperial College Healthcare National Health Services Trust
St. Mary’s Hospital Campus, Praed Street, London

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Banerjee: This stem cell trial is the first of its kind in humans to show that selected bone marrow stem cells (CD34+ cells) from the patients’ own bone marrow, can be administered to patients with severe strokes, within an early timescale after their stroke.

This pilot study of 5 patients showed that it was both safe and feasible to administer these cells to patients within a week of the event.

This was primarily a safety study, but clinical measures of recovery were also assessed, and these showed improvements in disability scores and scores of neurological impairment, in all 5 patients.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Banerjee: Patients with the most severe subtype of stroke typically have a very poor outcome, with only 4% alive and independent at 6 months after the stroke.

In this study 4 (out of 5) of the patients had this most severe type of stroke. At 6 months after their stroke, all 4 were alive, and 3 were independent (75%). This was unexpected and very encouraging. However the numbers of patients were very small, with no control comparison group and hence no definitive conclusions can be made until larger scale studies have been completed.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Banerjee: This pilot study has shown that it was both safe and feasible to treat severe stroke patients with their own selected bone marrow stem cells (CD34+ cells) and deliver these cells to the patient via the major artery supplying blood to their brain. This stem cell therapy was delivered within an early timescale following the stroke, which is when we believe the potential for recovery/regeneration is the greatest.

This trial was not designed to assess efficacy, though there were encouraging improvements in all the patients’ clinical disability scores.

It is worth noting that these are preliminary results, and larger scale studies need to be done before such CD34+ bone marrow stem cells can become routine therapy for stroke victims.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Banerjee: Further research needs to be done to assess the efficacy of this treatment in larger numbers of patients. Specific questions will also need to be answered including the type of strokes which would benefit the most, the best dose of cells to use, and the best route of delivery for the cells.

Such stem cell research is much needed in the field of stroke medicine, and will need adequate funding to help achieve this goal.


Intra-arterial immunoselected CD34+ stem cells for acute ischemic stroke.’ Stem Cells Translational Medicine
Soma Banerjee,Paul Bentley,Mohammad Hamady,Stephen Marley,John Davis,Abdul Shlebak,Joanna Nicholls,Deborah A. Williamson,Steen L. Jensen,Myrtle Gordon,Nagy Habib,Jeremy Chataway

Stem Cells Trans Med first published on August 8, 2014; doi:10.5966/sctm.2013-0178


Last Updated on August 11, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD