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Extracellular Vesicles Repair Damage in Stroke-Impaired Mice

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Durham, NCSep. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- According to a study released in the latest issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, a German team of researchers discovered that extracellular vesicles (EVs), tiny membrane-enclosed structures that travel between cells, seem to work as well as adult stem cells to help the brain recover from a stroke.

Scientists at the University of Duisburg-Essen administered EVs, which are also referred to as exosomes, to one group of stroke-impaired mice and gave adult stem cells from bone marrow to another. After monitoring the mice for four weeks, they found that both groups experienced the same degree of neurological repair.

Besides promoting brain recovery in the mice, the EVs also appeared to modulate post-stroke immune responses and provide long-term neurological protection.

The study could lead to a new clinical treatment for ischemic strokes because EVs carry far fewer risks than adult stem cell transplants, team co-leaders Thorsten Doeppner, a neurologist, and Bernd Giebel, a transfusion medicine specialist, suggested.

"We predict that with stringent proof-of-concept strategies, it might be possible to translate this therapy from rodents to humans, since EVs are better suited to clinical use than stem cell transplants," said Doeppner and Giebel.

EVs, believed to transmit biological signals between the body's cells to direct a wide range of processes, are now under intense scientific investigation for the role they could play in cancer, infectious diseases, and neurological disorders.

Although other studies have shown that administering EVs can be beneficial after a stroke, the Duisburg-Essen study is the first to supply evidence through a side-by-side analysis that EVs act as a key agent in repairing the brain.

"The fact that intravenous EV delivery alone was enough to protect the post-stroke brain and help it recover highlights the clinical potential of EVs in future stroke treatment," Doeppner and Giebel said.

Ten researchers from Duisburg-Essen's Department of Neurology and Institute for Transfusion Medicine collaborated on the study, which was supported by the university, Volkswagen Foundation and German Research Council.

"The current research, combined with the previous demonstration that EVs are well tolerated in men, suggests the potential for using this treatment in conjunction with clot-busting therapies for treatment of stroke," said Anthony Atala, M.D., editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

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Article: "Extracellular Vesicles Improve Post-Stroke Neuroregeneration and Prevent Post-Ischemic Immunosuppression," Thorsten R. DoeppnerJosephine HerzBernd Giebel et al. (DOI: 10.5966/sctm.2015-0078). The article can be accessed at www.StemCellsTM.com.