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Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a condition that results from injuries or abnormalities of the brain, usually in the womb but occurring any time during 2 years after birth. It affects brain and nervous system functions such as thinking, seeing, hearing, learning and movement.

Common causes are hypoxia (low oxygen levels), head injury, maternal infections such as rubella, brain bleeding, brain infection, and severe jaundice. Types of CP include: ataxic, hypotonic, spastic, dyskinetic, and mixed.

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Can cerebral palsy be treated with stem cells?

Mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord are considered to be universal donor cells because they are not immediately recognized as foreign. The cells home to damaged tissue and are known to secrete molecules called trophic factors.

Trophic factors from mesenchymal stem cells are known to stimulate repair of damaged nervous tissue in both the brain and the spinal cord. Some of these are neurotrophic factors that promote neuronal growth, induce new blood vessel growth, neurogenesis and astroglial activation, encourage synaptic connection and axonal remyelination, decrease programed cell death, and regulate microglial activation.1

Mesenchymal stem cells stimulate brain repair after stroke1 and traumatic brain injury.2,3,4

Animal studies show that mesenchymal stem cell can migrate into the brain and survive.5,6,7

Because we utilize allogeneic cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, we are able to offer treatment to any qualified patient, not just those who saved their own cord blood at birth. We will discuss several additional advantages of allogeneic cord-derived stem cells below.

There is evidence to support that bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells are safe and improve the quality of life in children with neurological disorders including cerebral palsy.8

A recent study using umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells to treat cerebral palsy found no serious adverse side effects.  Improvements were observed, especially in functional scales except for the Tardieu Scale9. Click here for study details.

Through administration of mesenchymal stem cells, we have observed improvements in cerebral palsy patients treated at our facilities.

In a parent’s own words:

Which types of stem cells are used to treat cerebral palsy and how are they collected?

The adult stem cells used to treat cerebral palsy at the Stem Cell Institute come from human umbilical cord tissue (allogeneic mesenchymal). Umbilical cords are donated by mothers after normal, healthy births. Before they are approved for treatment all umbilical cord-derived stem cells are screened for viruses and bacteria to International Blood Bank Standards.

Umbilical cord-derived stem cells allow our physicians to administer uniform doses and they do not require any stem cell collection from the patient, which, especially for children and their parents, can be an arduous process. Because they are collected right after (normal) birth, umbilical cord-derived cells are much more potent than their “older” counterparts like fat-derived cells for instance. Cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells pose no rejection risk because the body does not recognize them as foreign.

Dr. Riordan on the Umbilical Cord Selection Process at Stem Cell Institute

“Through retrospective analysis of our cases, we’ve identified proteins and genes that allow us to screen several hundred umbilical cord donations to find the ones that we know are most effective. We only use these cells and we call them ‘golden cells™’.

We go through a very high throughput screening process to find cells that we know have the best anti-inflammatory activity, the best immune modulating capacity, and the best ability to stimulate regeneration.”

Learn more about Golden Cells™

What are the advantages of treating cerebral palsy with allogeneic umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells?

  • Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.

  • The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.

  • Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.

  • Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.

  • No need to collect stem cells from the patient’s hip bone or fat under anesthesia, which especially for small children and their parents, can be an unpleasant ordeal.

  • There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.

  • No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

  • Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.

  • The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.

  • Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.

  • Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.

  • No need to collect stem cells from the patient’s hip bone or fat under anesthesia, which especially for small children and their parents, can be an unpleasant ordeal.

  • There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.

  • No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.

Our mesenchymal stem cells and the US FDA: Are they approved?

Human umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that were isolated and grown in our laboratory in Panama to create master cell banks are currently being used in the United States under US FDA regulation.

These cells serve as the starting material for cellular products used in MSC clinical trials for two Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy patients under US FDA’s designation of Investigational New Drug (IND) for single patient compassionate use. (IND 16026 DMD Single Patient).

Will the patient reject this type of stem cell?

The body’s immune system is unable to recognize umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells as foreign and therefore they are not rejected. HUCT stem cells have been administered thousands of times at the Stem Cell Institute and there has never been a single instance rejection (graft vs. host disease).  As a matter of fact, allogeneic (not the patient’s own) mesenchymal stem cells are approved to treat graft vs. host disease in Canada and New Zealand.

Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells also proliferate/differentiate more efficiently than “older” cells, such as those found in the fat and therefore, they are considered to be more “potent”.

In the words of an expert:

In this next video (just past the 1 minute mark), Arnold Caplan, PhD explains the mechanism by which donor mesenchymal stem cells shield themselves from the recipient’s immune system. Dr. Caplan is the scientist who discovered the mesenchymal stem cell. He is commonly referred to as “the father of the mesenchymal stem cell”.

How are the stem cells administered for cerebral palsy treatment?

The umbilical cord-derived stem cells are administered intravenously by a licensed physician.

Stem Cell Treatment: Cerebral Palsy *Protocols

Treatment protocol will be assigned by staff physicians after the patient has submitted all requested medical information and received approval. A patient’s recommended protocol may differ from the example given below.

  • Treatment length (Monday – Friday): 5 Days

  • Physical examination and blood testing: Monday

  • 4 intravenous infusions of human umbilical cord tissue-derived allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells: Tuesday – Friday

  • Treatment length (Monday – Friday): 5 Days

  • Physical examination