Research Highlight

Stem cell cure for stroke

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.24 Published online 18 February 2013

New research has shown that adult stem cells in bone marrow could be used to alleviate post-stroke brain damage and associated disabilities1. The study found that injecting stroke patients with adult stem cells isolated from their own bone marrow replenished nerve cells lost from the damaged brain.

The stem cells could act as scaffolds in the repair of stroke-induced brain damage, opening new therapeutic avenues for stroke.

Stroke results in long-term disability, including paralysis, language problems, and other cognitive deficits. With each passing year, India's burden of stroke patients soars to alarming levels with no cure in sight. Many studies trying to develop stem cell therapies have had limited success.

To identify effective stem cell-based cures for stroke, an Indian research team cultured mononuclear and mesenchymal stem cells isolated from the bone marrow of forty stroke patients with brain damage and physical disabilities. They then intravenously administered 50-60 million stem cells in 250 ml of saline over 2-3 hours for 8 and 24 weeks to these patients. The response of stroke patients to stem cell therapy was evaluated using help of clinical scores and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Stem cell therapy improved the condition of stroke patients by regenerating and activating nerve cells in the key brain regions involved in planning, controlling movements and understanding the actions of others. The researchers say that this stem cell therapy is safe and feasible for stroke patients.


  1. Bhasin, A. et al. Stem cell therapy: a clinical trial of stroke. Clin. Neurol. Neurosurg. (2012) doi:  10.1016/j.clineuro.2012.10.015