Novel stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue

New York: Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain’s natural healing tendencies.

The treatment called AB126 was developed using extracellular vesicles (EV) — fluid-filled structures known as exosomes — which are generated from human neural stem cells.

“This is truly exciting evidence, because exosomes provide a stealth-like characteristic, invisible even to the body’s own defenses. When packaged with therapeutics, these treatments can actually change cell progression and improve functional recovery,” said Steven Stice, professor at the University of Georgia in the US who led the research team.

Fully able to cloak itself within the bloodstream, this type of regenerative EV therapy appears to be the most promising in overcoming the limitations of many cell therapies-with the ability for exosomes to carry and deliver multiple doses-as well as the ability to store and administer treatment, the researchers said.

Small in size, the tiny tubular shape of an exosome allows EV therapy to cross barriers that cells cannot, said the study published in the journal Translational Stroke Research.

Following the administration of AB126, the researchers used MRI scans to measure brain atrophy rates in preclinical, age-matched stroke models, which showed an approximately 35 per cent decrease in the size of injury and 50 per cent reduction in brain tissue loss.

“Until now, we had very little evidence specific to neural exosome treatment and the ability to improve motor function. Just days after stroke, we saw better mobility, improved balance and measurable behavioral benefits in treated animal models,” Stice said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added.