The Lancet recently reported the results of stem cell therapy given six months or more after a hemiplegic stroke in eleven subjects. A small degree of functional improvement was noted but in the absence of contemporaneous controls no firm cause and effect conclusion is possible – no dramatic effect here, such that such controls are not needed. An interesting question concerns the design of a proper trial – should the controls undergo a sham procedure? I am opposed to sham surgery trials involving more than minimal risk of harm for reasons spelled out elsewhere. In the meantime, acute embolectomy is a highly effective treatment and the NHS needs to urgently reconfigure services to accommodate this new technology, as argued previously. 
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- Borlongan CV. Age of PISCES: stem-cell clinical trials in stroke. Lancet. 2016; 388: 736-8.
- Wolf BR & Buckwalter JA. Randomized Surgical Trials and “Sham” Surgery: Relevance to Modern Orthopaedics and Minimally Invasive Surgery. Iowa Orthop J. 2006; 26: 107-11.
- Lilford RJ. Meta-analysis of emergency embolectomy for acute thrombotic stroke. NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. September 2, 2016.
- Lilford RJ. First the heart, now the brain. NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. April 10, 2015.