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First European participant recruited to stroke study at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle

Staff at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle recently recruited Europe’s first participant to an NIHR-supported study investigating the effectiveness of stem cells in improving functional outcomes for people who have had a stroke.

The stem cell product which is being tested has the potential to improve standard of care and extend the treatment window for patients that have had a debilitating stroke. The product allows stem cells to be given to patients intravenously (through a vein) with relative ease, similar to a blood transfusion.

A similar study in a smaller number of patients previously indicated that the treatment is feasible, safe and may result in better outcomes for patients with moderate to moderately severe strokes. The stroke team at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the only unit in the country to have participated in both the early phase and current larger clinical trial.

Recruiting a first European patient to a study is a key performance indicator for the life sciences industry, as it demonstrates how organisations can support the rapid set-up and delivery of clinical research.

Dr Anand Dixit, Principal Investigator for the study at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am very proud that we have recruited Europe’s first participant to this study. Good team working and close coordination between the research team and the stem cell lab was essential to ensure the product reached the patient’s bedside with the necessary speed and efficiency.

“There are currently no effective treatments available to improve clinical outcomes for people who have had a stroke. This trial is trying to address this unmet need through the novel use of stem cell infusion.

Newcastle’s stroke unit is currently running nine clinical trials targeting different aspects of stroke management, making it one of the most research-active stroke units in the country.

Professor Caroline Wroe, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said: “Congratulations to the stroke team at Newcastle Hospitals for recruiting the first European participant to this important trial! It’s a fantastic achievement and testament to the team’s ethos of offering research as a treatment option to as many patients as possible.”

The study is sponsored by Athersys, Inc.