Dr Jocelyne Bloch: Bringing Brain Cells Back Home

Through treating everything from strokes to car accident traumas, neurosurgeon Dr Jocelyne Bloch knows the brain’s inability to repair itself all too well. But now, she suggests, she and her colleagues may have found the key to neural repair: Doublecortin-positive cells. Similar to stem cells, they are extremely adaptable and, when extracted from a brain, cultured and then re-injected in a lesioned area of the same brain, they can help repair and rebuild it. “With a little help,” Bloch says, “the brain may be able to help itself.”

Dr Jocelyne Bloch Is Helping To Unlock Potential Self-Healing Capacities Of The Human Brain

Swiss neurosurgeon, Dr Jocelyne Bloch, is an expert in deep brain stimulation and neuromodulation for movement disorders. Her recent work focuses on cortical cells, called doublecortin, related to neurogenesis and brain repair. In collaboration with Jean François Brunet and others, she is pioneering the development of adult brain cell transplantation for patients with stroke, using their own stem cells. She aims at gathering all these novel therapeutic strategies under a common umbrella that will optimise treatment options for patients suffering from neurological impairments. She is in charge of the Functional Neurosurgery Unit at the Lausanne University Hospital (French language site).

The Health-Care Survivor’s Comment

I am genuinely fascinated by this work, since my condition, Cerebral Palsy, could, one day, become treatable by this technique.

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Mike Tawse

Despite being deeply grateful to all of the surgeons, and everyone else who cared for me. There is almost nothing that would convince me to have another operation, but the chance that work like this could help me, and those who come after me, could be an exception. I shall watch this work with great interest, and hope for the future, whether or not it is mine.


How can i be considered a participant regarding this study? I could be a perfect candidate for any/all areas. I am 52 years old. Prior to my massive stroke 03/08/2014 I was extremely healthy, non smoker, non drinker. I had no history of blood pressure or cholesterol problems. I was very active with my family–sports, jogging, running, parent participation in school functions. I am now paralyzed on my left side, vision problems/neglect on my left. I struggle with confusion and memory problems at times. I am eager to volunteer for anything that could help me as well as further the study for this breakthrough. PLEASE help me. I want my life back with my wife and children. I am still young. I want the rest of my life to be one of participation, not observation.

The Health-Care Survivor

Hi Ken,

Thank you for contacting me, and for your interest in this post. I have no way of knowing whether Dr Bloch is looking for volunteers at the moment, but I have added a link to the article, so that you can contact her directly. (Please note, the website of Lausanne University Hospital is in French.) I hope this helps. Thank you for being willing to take part in such fascinating research.

I wish you well in your ongoing search for good health, and for the fullest possible return to the best possible quality of active life. Please feel free to contact me, via the ‘Contact Me’ link in the menu at the top of the page if I can be of any more assistance. I will be happy to help, if I can.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Mike Tawse: The Health-Care Survivor


Hello Mike,

Can this be tried on Children. I have a Neonatal stroke survivor she is hemipleagic, left side affected. She’s 2.5.

The Health-Care Survivor

Thank you for contacting me, and for your interest in this post. I have no way of knowing whether Dr Bloch is looking for volunteers at the moment, but I have added a link to the article, so that you can contact her directly. (Please note, the website of Lausanne University Hospital is in French.) I hope this helps.

Best Wishes

Mike Tawse: The Health-Care Survivor

Zachary Miller

Hi Ken,

See below for a study looking for participants in the US (Standford – Stroke study).

Chronic Stroke Patients Safely Recover After Injection Of Human Stem Cells

Stanford Researchers Now Actively Recruiting 156 Patients For New Trial: June 3, 2016

Injecting specially prepared human adult stem cells directly into the brains of chronic stroke patients proved safe and effective in restoring motor (muscle) function in a small clinical trial led by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators.

The 18 patients had suffered their first and only stroke between six months and three years before receiving the injections, which involved drilling a small hole through their skulls.
For most patients, at least a full year had passed since their stroke — well past the time when further recovery might be hoped for. In each case, the stroke had taken place beneath the brain’s outermost layer, or cortex, and had severely affected motor function. “Some patients couldn’t walk,” Steinberg said. “Others couldn’t move their arm.”

Sonia Olea Coontz had a stroke in 2011 that affected the movement of her right arm and leg. After modified stem cells were injected into her brain as part of a clinical trial, she says her limbs “woke up.” (credit: Mark Rightmire/Stanford University School of Medicine)

One of those patients, Sonia Olea Coontz, of Long Beach, California, now 36, had a stroke in May 2011. “My right arm wasn’t working at all,” said Coontz. “It felt like it was almost dead. My right leg worked, but not well.” She walked with a noticeable limp. “I used a wheelchair a lot. After my surgery, they woke up,” she said of her limbs.

‘Clinically meaningful’ results

The promising results set the stage for an expanded trial of the procedure now getting underway. They also call for new thinking regarding the permanence of brain damage, said Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurosurgery.

“This was just a single trial, and a small one,” cautioned Steinberg, who led the 18-patient trial and conducted 12 of the procedures himself. (The rest were performed at the University of Pittsburgh.) “It was designed primarily to test the procedure’s safety. But patients improved by several standard measures, and their improvement was not only statistically significant, but clinically meaningful. Their ability to move around has recovered visibly. That’s unprecedented. At six months out from a stroke, you don’t expect to see any further recovery.”

The trial’s results are detailed in a paper published online June 2 in Stroke. Steinberg, who has more than 15 years’ worth of experience in work with stem cell therapies for neurological indications, is the paper’s lead and senior author.

The procedure involved injecting SB623 mesenchymal stem cells, derived from the bone marrow of two donors and then modified to beneficially alter the cells’ ability to restore neurologic function.*

Motor-Function Improvements

Substantial improvements were seen in patients’ scores on several widely accepted metrics of stroke recovery. Perhaps most notably, there was an overall 11.4-point improvement on the motor-function component of the Fugl-Meyer test, which specifically gauges patients’ movement deficits. “Patients who were in wheelchairs are walking now,” said Steinberg, who is the Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor in Neurosurgery and Neurosciences.

“We know these cells don’t survive for more than a month or so in the brain,” he added. “Yet we see that patients’ recovery is sustained for greater than one year and, in some cases now, more than two years.”

Importantly, the stroke patients’ postoperative improvement was independent of their age or their condition’s severity at the onset of the trial. “Older people tend not to respond to treatment as well, but here we see 70-year-olds recovering substantially,” Steinberg said. “This could revolutionize our concept of what happens after not only stroke, but traumatic brain injury and even neurodegenerative disorders. The notion was that once the brain is injured, it doesn’t recover — you’re stuck with it. But if we can figure out how to jump-start these damaged brain circuits, we can change the whole effect.

“We thought those brain circuits were dead. And we’ve learned that they’re not.”

New Trial Now Recruiting 156 Patients

A new randomized, double-blinded multicenter phase-2b trial aiming to enroll 156 chronic stroke patients is now actively recruiting patients. Steinberg is the principal investigator of that trial. For more information, you can e-mail [email protected]. “There are close to 7 million chronic stroke patients in the United States,” Steinberg said. “If this treatment really works for that huge population, it has great potential.”

Some 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States alone. About 85 percent of all strokes are ischemic: They occur when a clot forms in a blood vessel supplying blood to part of the brain, with subsequent intensive damage to the affected area. The specific loss of function incurred depends on exactly where within the brain the stroke occurs, and on its magnitude.

Although approved therapies for ischemic stroke exist, to be effective they must be applied within a few hours of the event — a time frame that often is exceeded by the amount of time it takes for a stroke patient to arrive at a treatment center.

Consequently, only a small fraction of patients benefit from treatment during the stroke’s acute phase. The great majority of survivors end up with enduring disabilities. Some lost functionality often returns, but it’s typically limited. And the prevailing consensus among neurologists is that virtually all recovery that’s going to occur comes within the first six months after the stroke.
* Mesenchymal stem cells are the naturally occurring precursors of muscle, fat, bone and tendon tissues. In preclinical studies, though, they’ve not been found to cause problems by differentiating into unwanted tissues or forming tumors. Easily harvested from bone marrow, they appear to trigger no strong immune reaction in recipients even when they come from an unrelated donor. In fact, they may actively suppress the immune system. For this trial, unlike the great majority of transplantation procedures, the stem cell recipients received no immunosuppressant drugs.

During the procedure, patients’ heads were held in fixed positions while a hole was drilled through their skulls to allow for the injection of SB623 cells, accomplished with a syringe, into a number of spots at the periphery of the stroke-damaged area, which varied from patient to patient.

Afterward, patients were monitored via blood tests, clinical evaluations and brain imaging. Interestingly, the implanted stem cells themselves do not appear to survive very long in the brain. Preclinical studies have shown that these cells begin to disappear about one month after the procedure and are gone by two months. Yet, patients showed significant recovery by a number of measures within a month’s time, and they continued improving for several months afterward, sustaining these improvements at six and 12 months after surgery. Steinberg said it’s likely that factors secreted by the mesenchymal cells during their early postoperative presence near the stroke site stimulates lasting regeneration or reactivation of nearby nervous tissue.

No relevant blood abnormalities were observed. Some patients experienced transient nausea and vomiting, and 78 percent had temporary headaches related to the transplant procedure.

Abstract Of Clinical Outcomes Of Transplanted Modified Bone Marrow–Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells In Stroke: A Phase 1/2a Study

Background and Purpose—Preclinical data suggest that cell-based therapies have the potential to improve stroke outcomes.

Methods—Eighteen patients with stable, chronic stroke were enrolled in a 2-year, open-label, single-arm study to evaluate the safety and clinical outcomes of surgical transplantation of modified bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells (SB623).

Results—All patients in the safety population (N=18) experienced at least 1 treatment-emergent adverse event. Six patients experienced 6 serious treatment-emergent adverse events; 2 were probably or definitely related to surgical procedure; none were related to cell treatment. All serious treatment-emergent adverse events resolved without sequelae. There were no dose-limiting toxicities or deaths. Sixteen patients completed 12 months of follow-up at the time of this analysis. Significant improvement from baseline (mean) was reported for: (1) European Stroke Scale: mean increase 6.88 (95% confidence interval, 3.5–10.3;P<0.001), (2) National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale: mean decrease 2.00 (95% confidence interval, −2.7 to −1.3; P<0.001), (3) Fugl-Meyer total score: mean increase 19.20 (95% confidence interval, 11.4–27.0; P<0.001), and (4) Fugl-Meyer motor function total score: mean increase 11.40 (95% confidence interval, 4.6–18.2;P<0.001). No changes were observed in modified Rankin Scale. The area of magnetic resonance T2 fluid-attenuated inversion recovery signal change in the ipsilateral cortex 1 week after implantation significantly correlated with clinical improvement at 12 months (P<0.001 for European Stroke Scale).

Conclusions—In this interim report, SB623 cells were safe and associated with improvement in clinical outcome end points at 12 months.
Topics: Biotech | Cognitive Science/Neuroscience


Dear Sir
I am from Sultanate of Oman.My name is Suleiman said . My son have the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy . i want to give him better treatment . He is now at the age of 9 year. please give the details and procedure to treatment. Before treated in Oman and Thailand.
If you need the report, i sent the Mri and report.


Dear Sir,

I am from India. My wife(32 years age) had a jaw lock which while being treated in emergency resulted in respiratory distress and then cardiac arrest. 95% of her brain is injured due to 30 minutes of CPR . She is on supportive care post incident and vital stats are normal.

I would like to share her reports and take this treatment.

The Health-Care Survivor

Thank you so much for contacting me, and for your interest in this post. Sadly, I do not have any direct contact with Dr Jocelyne Bloch, but I have posted a link to her website, which should give you, and others, the means to make direct contact with Dr Bloch, and her team.

I wish you, and your wife well in your search for sustainable good health.

Best Wishes

Mike Tawse: The Health-Care Survivor

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