Inflammation following stroke is highly damaging to brain cells. Reduction of the human inflammatory response has the potential to improve recovery after stroke. A protein called interleukin-1 (IL-1) is the primary cause of such inflammation.
In this study, adult stem cells (called mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs) are investigated to harness their potential to fight IL-1 induced inflammation and help brain repair. They have already shown some potential for improving recovery after strokes in humans, where blood clots block blood flow to the brain (ischaemic stroke).
Stem cells are special in that they have the ability to turn into a variety of other, useful body cells. MSCs are a type of stem cell that can be easily harvested from the bone marrow of human donors.
The current study involves ‘in-vitro’ experiments which are the ‘test tube’ variety of biological experiments conducted in a lab. They do not involve human participants. A series of such in-vitro experiments, in different types of human brain cell, is hoped to reveal important mechanisms of how MSCs work. Specifically, MSCs will be ‘primed’ with inflammation mediating chemicals to coax them into responding with anti-inflammatory properties against IL-1, and also brain cell repairing properties.
If successful, the results of the study could be developed into a stem cell therapy that could have a significant impact on the clinical management and rehabilitation of stroke survivors.