This is a guest blog contributed by Namrata Kadam.
Do cord blood stem cells or those derived from adults help in the treatment of cerebral palsy? Ongoing research seems to suggest so.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neural disorder that affects very young children with deformed myelin (protective white matter around neurons) . It is often caused during pregnancy or during a complicated childbirth, or even with injury or illness right after the baby is born. It often manifests itself in the growing brain between the ages of two and three years and develops into a lifelong condition. At present, there is no cure for it – a child with CP grows up into an adult with CP.
CP can occur in many different forms, basis the site of damage in the brain. The symptoms show themselves when children are not able to attain the development milestones of others their age, such as sitting, walking, crawling, or even moving in response to a stimulus. Spastic CP is the most common in children, and it results in restricted movement and speech.
However, several studies and clinical trials are actively seeking to establish the efficacy of stem cells in affecting a cure for CP. That stem cells may spur damaged brain matter and neural deficits into repair and restoration mode and thus alleviate the symptoms of CP, forms the basis of these trials.
The propensity of stem cells to regenerate into other cells, especially at the site of injury and deficit in human beings, is an encouraging factor in devising a treatment plan for the treatment of CP. This holds tremendous implications for children affected by CP worldwide: the theory driving several studies and trials on stem cells and CP is that transplanting stem cells into the CP-affected brain could eventually replace deteriorated brain tissue when white matter is damaged by the disease.
A clinical trial at Duke University in 2011 tried to establish the link between banked cord blood stem cells and the reduction of symptoms in children suffering from spastic cerebral palsy. Completed a year later with 120 test subjects, the results are still being tabulated as the subjects – children between ages 12 months and 6 years – grow up and exhibit varying degrees of symptoms of the disorder. The team helming the research hopes to conclusively prove a link between an infusion of cord blood stem cells in children with cerebral palsy and an alleviation of symptoms, so as to have a greater impact of cord blood collection around the world.