Stem cells extend stroke treatment window

MIAMI (KFSN) -- It can happen in an instant. A stroke can leave a person debilitated and dependent on others. While some clinical trials are focusing on extending the treatment window, the time patients can receive life-saving drugs, researchers are now also using stem cells to repair the damage to patients' brains.

Julian Fowles was a busy entertainment lawyer who loved to dance.

"My wife just loves to salsa." Fowles shared.

But the music stopped when Fowles had a stroke about five years ago.

"I lost use of my legs and left arm, my face fell." Fowles continued.

Experts say the effects of a stroke can be reversed if the patient gets to the hospital within a 24 hour window. Julian didn't seek help till the next day.

Dileep Yavagal, MD, Director of Interventional Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said, "Speech can be slurred or lost, eyesight can be affected." (Read Full Interview)

Now there's new hope: using stem cells.

"These are the building blocks of our bodies," said Dr. Yavagal.

Researchers at the University of Miami are conducting a clinical trial, injecting stem cells from healthy donors into the damaged areas of patients' brains.

Jonathan Jagid, MD, from the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami Health System said, "We can actually get the brain to start to heal, regenerate neurons, and for the first time produce improvement in these patient's symptoms."

The minimally invasive procedure is done through a one- inch incision in the skull.

Doctor Yavagal stated, "with the idea that the cells will stimulate repair of the stroke area."

And strengthen weak limbs. Fowles had the procedure last July. Because it's a double blind study, he doesn't know whether he got the stem cells or not.

"I'm looking forward to some change," Fowles said.

He is feeling stronger every day, rowing as part of his rehab. He's hoping the stem cells are helping him and someday others recovering from stroke.

It's called the ACTISsIMA trial. Patients should be between the ages of 18 and 85 and suffered a stroke in the previous six months to seven and a half years. There are 60 clinical sites across the country. For more information on the study please email

For more information on this report, please contact:

Kai Hill, Media Relations

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