Healthcare: On the Agenda - Stroke stem cell trial declared safe

In a nutshell

The world's first clinical trial to inject stem cells into the brains of stroke victims has been deemed safe, with the first three patients trialling a low dosage at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital. ReNeuron, a leading clinical-stage stem cell developer, conducted laboratory tests, neurological examinations and neurofunctional tests to ensure the treatment was safe and could be tolerated by patients.

Why is it important?

Stroke accounts for about 53,000 deaths each year and is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales after heart disease and cancer. The treatment helps to repair areas of damaged brain tissue, improving mental and physical function. During the next year, nine more patients will receive progressively higher dosages as recommended by the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board, with larger trials rolling out in 18 months' time.

PR strategy

The media outreach was handled by Buchanan Communications, on behalf of ReNeuron, and the University of Glasgow's in-house PR team. An embargoed press release was sent to BBC News science correspondent Pallab Ghosh on 31 August.

Media coverage

The story featured in print, broadcast and online press on 1 September and on subsequent days. Coverage highlights included The Scotsman (p22), the Daily Mirror (p24) and BBC Radio 4's Today programme, which interviewed ReNeuron's CEO Michael Hunt, with a follow-up phone call with Professor Keith Muir from the university.

150k: The number of people estimated to have a stroke in the UK each year

£8bn: The cost of stroke to the economy each year in England.

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