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British stem cell therapy for stroke passes first stage test

The world's first trial to treat stroke with stem cells has passed its first stage of safety tests and is ready to move on to the next stage, BBC reported.

An independent panel of experts assessed three patients who had received brain injections of stem cells at Glasgow south hospital in Scotland and concluded there were no adverse effects from the treatment.

More stroke patients are likely to undergo the trial in the future to determine whether injections of stem cells into the brain could be a treatment for stroke.

Researchers hope stem cells can repair damaged brain tissue in stroke patients and are pleased that they passed the first phase of safety tests.

Last year an elderly man who suffered a stroke became the first patient in the world to undergo a clinical trial in which stem cells are injected into the brain to treat a stroke. The researchers then ran the same experiment on two other people. The subjects were injected with low-dose stem cells to test the safety of the treatment.

Over the next year, about nine subjects will be tested for safety in increments of dose, but the researchers will also use this to assess the best calculations for effectiveness in subsequent larger trials. But larger trials will not begin for at least 18 months.

Stem-cell therapies are still in their early stages, and it may be many years before they become widely available. Conservative estimates say it will take at least another five years, say executives involved in technology development.

Strokes kill 67, 000 people a year in the UK and are the third leading cause of death in England and wales after heart disease and cancer, according to UK organisations.
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