Human umbilical cord blood cells could be used to treat stroke victims outside standard the three-hour window, according to University of South Florida researchers who presented the results at The Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C..

The experimental treatment, which was administered to rats two days following a stroke, reduced inflammatory responses in the brain, limited stroke damage and lead to greater recovery.

“We were very surprised,” said principal investigator Alison Willing, a neuroscientist at the university’s Center for Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. “In some animals, the stroke initially damaged half the brain, but after treatment with the cord blood cells they were functioning normally.”

The only drug currently approved for ischemic stroke treatment is tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which breaks up blood clots. However, it must be given within three hours of a stroke to work.

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Cord Blood stem cells could thus potentially save many more lives by giving doctors and paramedics more time to administer treatment. However I think there is more to it. They stated that in some animals treatment with cord blood cells recovered them even after half of their brain was damaged. I think cord blood cells are not just giving more time, it is actually repairing the damage.