UMMC researchers working to stop brain damage after stroke - - Jackson, MS

UMMC researchers working to stop brain damage after stroke

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Stored in a liquid nitrogen tank is a treatment that has the potential for preserving your quality of life if you suffer a stroke.

"The stem cell product that's being used is from adult bone marrow. All of us have in our bone marrow some cells that have the potential to be different than regular cells. We call those stem cells," explained Neurology chairman Dr. Alexander Auchus.

Dr. Auchus who is overseeing the research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center says the brain damage that occurs with stroke doesn't typically happen immediately. "The tissue that been starved of blood reacts and it reacts over a period of hours and days."

The stem cells are stored at the Stem Cell Laboratory at UMMC. Veteran research scientist, Dr. Tereza Holman is the lab's director. "The company running the study sends up either stem cells or a placebo for the study," Dr. Holman said.

That's what's known as a double blind study.

When Dr. Auchus identifies a possible study participant at the hospital's Stroke Center, preparation of the stem cells begins.

First the stem cells are rinsed and transferred to an IV bag. "You get four ounces of fluid infused in the vein and it includes 1.2 million of these stem cells," Dr. Auchus said.

To insure cell count accuracy of 1.2 million, the product is run through a sophisticated machine that counts every single stem cell.

Dr. Auchus says the biggest advantage to this therapy's potential is increasing the options for stroke treatment past the current available protocol which is approximately 12 hours.

"The standard stroke treatment is intravenous TPA which is allowed up to four and a half hours after onset."

That's sometimes followed by clot removal options during the remaining 12 hour window.

If the stem cell therapy proves effective, stroke victims would have up to 36 hours to receive it, and the possible benefit is a remarkably improved quality of life. "Less disability, less death, smaller size. They follow up the study with repeat MRI scans to see if the actual amount of scarring from the stroke is less than it would have been," Dr. Auchus said.

"Just the potential of stem cells to become any type of cell in the body. If we can regulate that it will be a major breakthrough," said Dr. Holman 

The study is expected to last a number of years.

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