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Northwestern Medicine researchers investigate stem cell therapy for stroke
Date:2/11/2013

Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke which can result in permanent brain damage, long term disability or death. As a leading cause of adult disability, stroke has an annual burden of more than $62 billion on the United States economy. With the exception of rehabilitation therapy, very few treatments are available to improve the chronic neurologic deficits caused by a stroke. In hopes of expanding therapeutic options, Northwestern Medicine researchers are investigating a novel stem cell therapy, known as SB623, that may hold the key to improving motor function following a disabling stroke.

Northwestern is currently one of only three sites in the nation enrolling participants in a landmark study to test the safety and efficacy of adult stem cell therapy for patients with stable ischemic stroke. Accounting for 87 percent of strokes, ischemic stroke occurs when a blocked artery interrupts the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. This causes cell death and brain damage which can leave a person with impaired body functions, including paralysis, weakness on one side, difficulty with speech and language, vision issues, and cognitive challenges.

"Two million brain cells die each minute during a stroke making it critical to get treatment fast at the earliest sign of symptoms; once brain damage occurs, there's very little that can be done medically to reverse it," said principal investigator Joshua Rosenow, MD, director of Functional Neurosurgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and associate professor of neurosurgery, neurology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "While this study is only a preliminary step towards understanding the healing potential of these cells, we are excited about what a successful trial could do for a patient population that currently has very limited therapeutic options."

While the study's primary purpose is to examine the safety of SB623
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Contact: Megan McCann
memccann@nmh.org
312-926-5900
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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