Health Beat

Health Beat: Stem cells extend stroke treatment window

MIAMI - Julian Fowles was a busy entertainment lawyer who loved to dance.

"My wife just loves to salsa," Fowles shared.

But the music stopped when Fowles had a stroke about five years ago.

"I lost use of my legs and left arm, my face fell," he continued.

Experts say the effects of a stroke can be reversed if the patient gets to the hospital within a 24-hour window. Fowles didn't seek help until the next day.

"Speech can be slurred or lost. Eyesight can be affected," said Dr. Dileep Yavagal, the director of interventional neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Now, there's new hope: using stem cells.

"These are the building blocks of our bodies," Yavagal said.

Researchers at the University of Miami are conducting a clinical trial, injecting stem cells from healthy donors into the damaged areas of patients' brains.

"We can actually get the brain to start to heal, regenerate neurons, and, for the first time, produce improvement in these patients' symptoms," said Dr. Jonathan Jagid, of the University of Miami Health System's Department of Neurological Surgery.

The minimally invasive procedure is done through a one-inch incision in the skull.

"With the idea that the cells will stimulate repair of the stroke area," Yavagal added.

And strengthen weak limbs. Fowles had the procedure last July. Because it's a double blind study, he doesn't know whether he got the stem cells.

"I'm looking forward to some change," Fowles said.

He is feeling stronger every day, rowing as part of his rehab. He's hoping the stem cells are helping him and someday others recovering from stroke.

It's called the ACTISsIMA trial. Patients should be between the ages of 18 and 85 and have suffered a stroke in the previous six months to seven and a half years. There are 60 clinical sites across the country. For more information on the study, email

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