Georgia research will aid stroke victims - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia research will aid stroke victims

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October 12, 2004
Amy Cowman

Augusta-- Stroke prevention has advanced significantly in the past five years, but stroke remains the leading cause of disability in America. Options for treatment are scarce if you don't act fast.

But researchers are working to harness the power of stem cells to give doctors more options to help ward off stroke disability.

Paralysis, loss of speech and strength are all part of rehab for stroke victims like Amber Simpkins. And the damage could be done before they even know it's happening.

"There’s only one drug available in the clinic, TPA, and for TPA to be effective it needs to be delivered within three hours," said Cesar Borlongan, PhD, associate professor of Neurology, at the Medical College of Georgia.

Only 2% of patients make it to the hospital in time to reduce immediate brain damage.

Doctor Borlongan wants to change those statistics by using stem cells from a newborn's umbilical cord blood. The cells work in partnership with Minotol, a sugar alcohol that opens up the brain and allows the cells to enter the brain.

Cesar Borlongan, PhD, associate professor of neurology, medical college of Georgia)

"We're hoping these cells won't only replace the dead brain cells but will also be functional to re-correct the damaged part of the brain." expanding the time frame from three hours to potentially days weeks or months.

"If you have a therapy that works even if it's not great but can be given 24 to 48 hours and virtually everybody can take it, that's actually a remarkable advance," said David Hess, MD, neurologist, Medical College of Georgia.

Even more significant the study suggests the mixture can be injected outside the brain, through veins in the arm.

"It’s less invasive it doesn't cause as much trauma to the recipient," Dr. Borlongan said.

The research has worked with rats, but in these early stages, Hess remains cautiously optimistic. "I’m hopeful I think everybody in stroke wants something to work but - it's a big leap from the rodent to the person, yet extremely important work."

For more information on the study, you can log onto http://www.mcg.edu/news/2004newsrel/borlongan1.html

posted at 3:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com