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CNN Today

Cell Transplant Shows Promise for Stroke Patients

Aired August 22, 2000 - 1:38 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In health news, a team of researchers is waiting for FDA approval to test a stroke treatment on more patients. CNN has followed this treatment study since it first began in 1998. The procedure involves the use of tissue from cancerous tumors to stimulate brain activity in stroke patients.

As CNN's Jonathan Aiken reports, the results so far are promising.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elizabeth Page is going through extensive therapy to regain the movement that once came so naturally. A 32-year-old Washington, D.C. bus driver, Page recently suffered a mild stroke and is learning how to walk again.

ELIZABETH PAGE, STROKE PATIENT: It's just like your limbs are just there and that's it, they won't move. You're looking at them like, come on, move. I'm telling my leg to move and it won't move.

AIKEN: She's encouraged by the early results of a study using transplanted cells to replace those lost or damaged by stroke. Two years after the first transplants took place at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, none of the 12 patients involved in the study have rejected the new cells. And doctors say there have been no signs of adverse effects, a finding that could shorten the time frame for a viable treatment for stroke patients.

DR. DOUGLAS KONDZIOLKA, UNIV. OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER: We're looking relatively short-term for, I think, opening the door. It may not be the best answer 10 years from now, but we may have some answer, some answer that's meaningful to people.

AIKEN (on camera): Now that the transplant procedure has been proven to be safe, researchers here in Pittsburgh are awaiting FDA approval before moving on to the next step; and that would be the first of several clinical trials to determine if the procedure is effective.

(voice-over): The early results are promising: Of the 12 patients who have received transplanted cells, six have shown small but measurable signs of increased motor function.

KONDZIOLKA: Because we have some signs of efficacy, not just on how the patients were doing, but also on the metabolic brain scans, the PET scans, we're very encouraged to move ahead with a more ambitious second study.

AIKEN: The results of which will be eagerly anticipated by stroke patients like Elizabeth Page.

PAGE: If they can get it to work, I think it will be wonderful, especially for people like myself, who are used to every day, working every day, and athletics, and things like that, just everyday life.

AIKEN: Jonathan Aiken, for CNN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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