London: In a small clinical trial at Glasgow`s Southern General Hospital, five seriously disabled stroke patients have shown small signs of recovery following the injection of stem cells into their brain.
Prof Keith Muir, of Glasgow University, who is treating them, said he is "surprised" by the mild to moderate improvements in the five patients.
But he noted that it is too soon to tell whether the effect is due to the treatment they are receiving.
The five stroke patients are among nine patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s who are taking part in the clinical trial to assess the safety of the procedure which involves injecting stem cells into the damaged brain part.
It is one of the first trials in the world to test the use of stem cells in patients.
Results to be presented at the European Stroke Conference in London on Tuesday show that there have been no adverse effects on the patients so far and there have been improvements to more than half participating in the trial.
All the patients involved in the trial had their strokes between six months and five years before they received the treatment.
The recovery of any one of them - let alone five - was not expected, according to Prof Muir, who is in charge of the trial.
He told an English news website that they`ve seen people who now have the ability to move their fingers where they have had several years of complete paralysis.
"We have seen some people that have been able to walk around their house whereas previously they had been dependent on assistance and we have had improvements that have enabled people to recognise what is happening around them," he added.
These improvements have made it easier for the patients to do day-to-day tasks such as dressing themselves, walking and being more independent.
The results so far pave the way for a so-called phase two trial later this year, which will be desirable to determine whether any improvement is due to the treatment.