The research community continues to validate the benefits resulting from comparatively simple first generation stem cell transplants, of the sort that have been available via medical tourism for a decade:
In an analysis of published research, [researchers] identified 46 studies that examined the use of mesenchymal stromal cells - a type of multipotent adult stem cells mostly processed from bone marrow - in animal models of stroke. They found MSCs to be significantly better than control therapy in 44 of the studies. Importantly, the effects of these cells on functional recovery were robust regardless of the dosage, the time the MSCs were administered relative to stroke onset or the method of administration. (The cells helped even if given a month after the event and whether introduced directly into the brain or injected via a blood vessel.)
MSCs do not differentiate into neural cells. Normally, they transform into a variety of cell types, such as bone, cartilage and fat cells. The cells are attracted to injury sites and, in response to signals released by these damaged areas, begin releasing a wide range of molecules. In this way, MSCs orchestrate numerous activities: blood vessel creation to enhance circulation, protection of cells starting to die, growth of brain cells, etc. At the same time, when MSCs are able to reach the bloodstream, they settle in parts of the body that control the immune system and foster an environment more conducive to brain repair.
"Stroke remains a major cause of disability, and we are encouraged that the preclinical evidence shows [MSCs'] efficacy with ischemic stroke. MSCs are of particular interest because they come from bone marrow, which is readily available, and are relatively easy to culture. In addition, they already have demonstrated value when used to treat other human diseases."