Human mesenchymal stem cells have been explored for their application in cell-based therapies targeting stroke. Identifying cell lines that stand as safe, accessible, and effective for transplantation, while optimizing dosage, timing, and method of delivery remain critical translational steps towards clinical trials. Preclinical studies using bone marrow-derived NCS-01 cells show the cells’ ability to confer functional recovery in ischemic stroke. Coculturing primary rat cortical cells or human neural progenitor cells with NCS-01 cells protects against oxygen-glucose deprivation. In the rodent middle cerebral artery occlusion model, intracarotid artery administration of NCS-01 cells demonstrate greater efficacy than other mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) at improving motor and neurological function, as well as reducing infarct volume and peri-infarct cell loss. NCS-01 cells secrete therapeutic factors, including basic fibroblast growth factor and interleukin-6, while also demonstrating a potentially novel mechanism of extending filopodia towards the site of injury. In this review, we discuss recent preclinical advancements using in vitro and in vivo ischemia models that support the transplantation of NCS-01 in human stroke trials. These results, coupled with the recommendations put forth by the consortium of Stem cell Therapeutics as an Emerging Paradigm for Stroke (STEPS), highlight a framework for conducting preclinical research with the ultimate goal of initiating clinical trials.
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