The development of effective strategies for the treatment of stroke is one of the potential applications of stem cell therapy. Various transplantation methods, cell types, and animal models have been examined to investigate the potential benefits of stem cell therapy for stroke, with promising results. Improvements in the methodology of transplantation will lead to improved outcomes in animal models of stroke, which will translate to greater efficacy of stem cell therapies in clinical trials. Recent studies show a growing consensus that intra-arterial delivery of stem cells is well-suited for the treatment of stroke. The goal of intra-arterial delivery is to increase the efficiency of cell engraftment and specific targeting to areas of stroke pathology. However, evidence suggests that not all neural and glial stem cells may have the requisite properties to sufficiently migrate from the blood into the brain parenchyma. Thus, methods to enhance the adhesive and migratory properties of cells via cell engineering, or the enrichment of cell types that endogenously express such molecules, are critical for improving intra-arterial transplantation. Intra-arterial delivery of engineered cells, combined with the use of noninvasive, real-time MRI, will provide a path forward for safe and effective stem cell therapy for stroke.
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