New research is looking into stem cell therapy to see if this regenerative treatment can help children with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is caused when an infant’s brain is damaged during pregnancy, delivery, or right after birth. While there are different types of cerebral palsy, all forms share the symptom of poor muscle control. It is difficult for these children and adults to move.
However, one young boy with cerebral palsy may find moving easier. He recently received a transfusion of stem cells from his younger brother’s cord blood to see if it would help repair the damage in his brain.
Past studies have shown a potential benefit if the child receives a transfusion of stem cells from their own cord blood. However, this was the first time a patient received stem cells from someone else.
If it works, this procedure can bring hope to many individuals and families who are suffering from the impact of cerebral palsy.
Boy Receives Stem Cell Transfusion
Stem cells can be used as blueprints to create other, different types of cells. Doctors hope that by giving the boy with cerebral palsy a stem cell transfusion, the stem cells will help his brain heal and make it easier for him to move.
In the past, researchers from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina found that stem cell injections can help ease the mobility problems that children with cerebral palsy have.
However, in that study, the patients used their own stem cells. Here, the family had stem cells from their younger son. The stem cells were taken from cord blood — the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after delivery.
One benefit of cord blood stem cells is that they are less likely to carry infections. Another advantage of cord blood is the cells are immature and more likely to be accepted by the recipient’s body.
Stem Cell Therapy Promising for Children With Cerebral Palsy
The news of this little boy receiving cord blood transfusion comes after a different study by Duke University Medical Center about the benefits of cord blood infusions. The first study demonstrated that transfusions of cord blood improved the motor function of children with spastic cerebral palsy.
The researchers believed the stem cells’ ability to create different types of cells would help the body repair some of the damage in the brain. This, in turn, would help ease some of the symptoms caused by the disorder.
To test their theory, they gave half of the participating patients an infusion of their own cord blood and half a placebo infusion. The researchers didn’t pick the amount of cord blood a child received but set a minimum amount based on the child’s body weight. After that, it was based on how much cord blood was available to the children.
One year later, the children came back to be reassessed. Those who received a higher dosage of cord blood demonstrated the most improvement in their ability to control their motor functions.
After the reassessment, the children were given another dose. However, the groups were switched. Those who received the cord blood the first time got the placebo the second time and those who only received the placebo the first time received a transfusion of cord blood.
Once again, there was an improvement for the children who received a higher dosage of cord blood.
Undergoing Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy
These two studies by Duke University Medical Center are not the only clinical trials for children with cerebral palsy. Other studies are happening that are also investigating the benefits of using cord blood to treat cerebral palsy.
Participating in a trial is a personal decision, but if you are thinking about it, speak with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks.
If you would like for more information about therapies for your child, contact the Birth Injury Justice Center today. Our team can also help you learn how to afford the costs of caring for a child with cerebral palsy.