(NAPS)—Researchers may soon have good news for many of the estimated 2 million Americans who have cerebral palsy, a condition that is caused by a brain injury before birth or during the first few years of life. The condition can impair movement, hearing, vision and cognitive skills. There’s currently no cure—and no standard therapy that works for all patients.
New, cutting-edge research is exploring the potential of stem cell–based therapies to treat these kinds of neurological impairments. Pediatric neurologist James Carroll is the lead investigator of a new clinical trial at the Georgia Health Sciences University to determine whether an infusion of stem cells from a child’s own umbilical cord blood can improve quality of life in children with cerebral palsy. The study will include 40 children, ages 2 through 12 years, whose parents have stored their children’s cord blood with Cord Blood Registry. “The hope for stem cells, really from the beginning, is that they might serve as some type of replacement for cells in the nervous system that have been destroyed or never developed properly,” said Dr. James Carroll.
Dr. Carroll states that the outcomes of both preclinical research and anecdotal evidence in patients have made umbilical cord blood an intriguing source of stem cells for researchers to pursue—as has the safety profile of using a child’s own cord blood. He adds, “We’ve found in our animal experiments that adult stem cells can greatly assist in recovery from brain injury, so we wanted to try to apply this in children and cord blood; that is, the cord blood of the child being treated provides a safe place and a safe way to do that.”