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New drug made from stem cells helping with stroke recovery

Stroke is 5th-most common cause of death

It's the fifth-most common cause of death and the number one cause of long-term disability. We're talking about stroke, and now researchers are conducting a new clinical trial called Pisces Three to see if a drug made from stems cells helps with stroke recovery.

A simple signature speaks volumes for Malena Buck. Buck had a stroke during college graduation, and she couldn't write her name, walk or even talk with her students.

"I was walking in a walker for a long time," Buck said. "I couldn't move my hand." 

But then, through a University of South Florida study, she had a drug made from stem cells injected in her brain at the University of Chicago.

After the surgery, she was seen can waving her right hand.

"I told the doctor and he goes, 'They can't work that fast. But the minute I got out of surgery I could do things that I couldn't do before," Buck said. 

Dr. William Scott Burgin, professor and division director, vascular neurology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, said most patients can feel the effects of the stem cells gradually.

"Preliminary research has shown that in these circumstances it's very encouraging that using these cells can aid recovery," Burgin said.

Burgin said right now, most stroke recovery treatments are limited to conventional therapy.

He said there isn't medication that helps with recovery.

"This would be kicking the door open to an entire new realm of possibilities for people with the most disabling medical condition that we come across in the world," Burgin said.

After the surgery, Buck's life changed dramatically.

"If it wasn't for them or the stem cells, I would have just given up," she said.

Participants in the clinical trial must be age 35 to 75 and have limited movement of their arms and legs 12 months after stroke. For more information, see https://pisces3.org/