The possibility of using stem cells to treat cerebral palsy
has been suggested by several scientists based on the ability of these cells to:
a) stimulate regeneration of damaged nervous system tissue; b) to prevent
ongoing death of neurons; and c) to directly turn into, or "differentiate" into
neurons. This is explained in the video
One type of stem cell therapy that is currently under
investigation for cerebral palsy involves administration of cells from the
umbilical cord blood. This treatment has been the subject of much interest
because of the possibility of using cord blood from other patients. Routinely
performed outside of the United States, Dr. Joanne Kurtzburg from Duke
University has been the first to perform this treatment under the regulations of
the FDA. This recent story provides a personal description of one of the
In May 2009 5-year old Dylan Cain could only speak about 30
words and could not interact with family and friends. Subsequent to receiving a
cord blood transplant Dylan had a "miraculous" recovery according to parents.
"They told us at Duke that it might be months before we saw
any sign of improvement," Mother Jinger Cain said. "Just six weeks after we
returned home, he started to answer questions. His right leg straightened out a
bit, and his vocabulary has expanded amazingly."
"The speech therapist found that Dylan had progressed
5-plus months in the 3 1/2-month period of time, which means he is progressing
faster than his peers," Jinger said. "What is even more impressive is that
before the stem cells and hyperbaric treatments, he was progressing at a rate of
one month for every four months that went by, or three to four months of
development in a year, so he was consistently falling behind his peers. Now he
is progressing five times faster than before, and that has blown away his
teacher and therapists at the school he attends, as well as his doctors."
Jinger said that Dylan’s teacher in Bend told her she has
never seen a child make such gains in her 20 years of teaching.
Successes such as this case have prompted other doctors to
performed clinical trials assessing in a standardized fashion whether stem cells
actually impact cerebral palsy. Dr. James E Carroll, (706) 721-3371, of The Medical College of Georgia has recently announced initiation of a 40 patient placebo controlled trial in patients with cerebral palsy between 2-12. For more information please see the link below.