One of the many diseases that may be benefited by ongoing stem cell research is cerebral palsy (CP). While currently there is no cure for the disease, groundbreaking work is being done with stem cells that may hold hope for those with the disability. Although there are already stem cell treatments being used on CP in some countries, the study being performed at Duke University may closer to creating treatments in the U.S.
Cord Blood Stem Cells
The stem cells that have been at the center of much research are the mesenchymal cord blood stem cells. These stem cells are extracted from the umbilical cord blood after birth. Due to ongoing research, many parents have their child’s cord blood saved and banked incase there is a future cure that may be obtained from these cells. Although stem cells can be extracted from areas such as bone marrow, the umbilical cord blood cells are considered a younger, more versatile version.
Stem Cells And Cerebral Palsy
There has been speculation and research in to the use of stem cells as a possible treatment for cerebral palsy across the world. The hopes are to find a way to decrease inflammation and even rejuvenate damaged cells within the brain that are causing the symptoms of cerebral palsy. While there has been initial success, none of the studies have been conducted within a placebo-controlled trial. The new study at Duke University hopes to change this.
Duke University Study
A study on the use of mesenchymal cord blood stem cells on children with cerebral palsy began in 2010 at Duke Univeristy. Although the research department had already began trials using stem cells for CP in previous years, the studies did not have a placebo-control group, making the results unreliable.
The recent studies goal was to infuse 120 patients with their own banked umbilical cord blood stem cells over a two-year period. Although all patients would be eventually given the treatment, they may receive it at the beginning of the study or one year later. Since the patients and parents will not know when the actual treatment will be given, this can be tracked against any placebo effect.
A four-year old boy in California with cerebral palsy who could not move or talk before his infusions at Duke University now can talk, walk and eat on his own. The results for little Rydr Rudgers have been extremely encouraging. His doctor, Michael Chez, M.D. has just received FDA approval to start a similar study on children with autism at Sutter Neuroscience Institute.
Although the final results of the Duke study are yet to be released, there is renewed hope for those with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. However, there seems to be a large connection to using a person’s own stem cells that must have been banked at the time of their birth. Considering the advances already being made with the stem cells on diseases, expectant parents may want to consider banking their child’s stem cells as a precautionary measure. Since it is taken after the birth, there is no risk to the infant and it may be a cure for unknown issues later in the child’s life.