Putting the spotlight on stroke research

18 September 2015

We are passionate about research and would like to acknowledge members of the AGRF community for their outstanding research on stroke.

Dr Xenia Kaidonis

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Stroke Research Programme

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)

Dr Kaidonis is a Peter Couche Foundation Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Stroke Research Programme. Her research focuses on mouse models of stroke, assessment of chronic stroke disability and the development of a chronic stroke treatment using dental pulp stem cells. Dr Kaidonis is also interested in investigating how dental pulp stem cells modulate the peri-neuronal net (the neuronal extracellular matrix) and how this may enhance neuroplasticity to improve chronic stroke disability.

Stroke is the most common neurological disease and afflicts 60,000 Australians a year. It is the second leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability.  Over 250,000 Australians are living with a disability resulting from stroke (chronic stroke), for which there is currently no treatment outside of long-term rehabilitation.

Stem cell treatment is a promising adjunct therapy to rehabilitation that has the potential to help stroke survivors regain some of their lost function and improve quality of life. Of particular interest are adult human stem cells from teeth (Dental Pulp Stem Cells; DPSC). Most exciting is the possibility that DPSC may be extracted from a stroke survivor’s own tooth and then injected into the brain (autologous transplantation) to improve their disability. This is a relatively safe option as there is no risk of rejection, or need for immune-suppressive drugs as exists with the transplantation of stem cells from one person to another.

The research team previously demonstrated that DPSC isolated from human wisdom teeth have neurogenic potential and are able to improve stroke outcomes when used to treat rats in the acute stages of stroke.

They have also since demonstrated that DPSC are present in the teeth of people from the age of 13 up until at least 90 years of age and that the age of the donor does not affect the neurogenic potential of these cells. This is a very important finding, given that 69% of stroke victims are over the age of 65.

The research team are currently planning to translate this research into the clinic, with The Open Study of Dental Pulp Stem Cell Therapy in Humans (TOOTH) clinical trial.To learn more about South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and research on stroke please visit the SAHMRI website.