Five seriously disabled stroke patients in Scotland have shown small signs of recovery following experimental treatment with stem cells.
The small clinical trial, involving nine patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s, is assessing the safety of a procedure to inject stem cells into the damaged brain part, the BBC reports.
Professor Keith Muir of Glasgow University, who is treating the patients, said he was surprised by the mild to moderate improvements but stressed it was too soon to tell whether the effect was due to the treatment they are receiving.
It is thought that stroke patients do not recover after the first six months of their stroke. All the patients involved in the trial had their strokes between six months and five years before they received the treatment.
There have been improvements to more than half participating in the trial but researchers warn it is not certain whether this is due to the treatment or the placebo effect of the close medical attention the patients are receiving.
Among the patients to have shown improvements is 80-year-old Frank Marsh, who had a stroke five years ago.
After the injection of stem cells into the damaged area of his brain, his balance and mobility improved as did his hand strength.