New hope for stroke victims as stem cell treatment is tested in Newcastle

ITV Tyne Tees was shown the stem cell storage facility Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Doctors in Newcastle are among the first in the country to test a new treatment for stroke victims that uses stem cells.

Phase 1 of the PISCES trial involved 9 patients and established that the treatment, which involves injections directly into a stroke victim's brain, is safe.

Forty patients will be involved in phase two, which is taking place at centres across the UK. The North East's only centre, which opened a month ago, is based in Newcastle.

The second part of the trial will also involve a single injection of stem cells into a stroke patient's brain. This is done under anaesthetic and most patients stay in hospital for one to 2 days after treatment.

Dr Anand Dixit, a stroke specialist at the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary, is keen for people who might benefit from the trial to come forward. Those who have had a stroke in the last one to nine months will be eligible. ITV Tyne Tees spoke to him about when treatment is most effective.

The treatments currently available for strokes must be administered within hours of the stroke happening - they are anti-clotting agents which disperse blood clots in the brain.

However this new treatment might mean those first few hours are less crucial, and could offer an increased chance of recovery.

Around 150,000 people suffer a stroke in the UK each year, and this new treatment might be able to help 80% of those victims.

Around half of all stroke victims are left with permanent disabilities as a result of the damage caused to brain caused by the stroke. Depending on the part of the brain affected, people who have had a stroke may experience difficulties with speech, movement or memory.

The new treatment being tested could help relieve patients of these symptoms.