June 03, 2015

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a chronic disorder that impairs one’s control of movement due to brain damage. About 10,000 infants and 1,500 preschoolers in the United States are diagnosed with CP each year, and more than 764,000 Americans overall have this condition. Many stem cell researches are currently looking for ways to treat CP utilizing stem cells collected via umbilical cord banking. These cells, which an expecting mother decides to “bank” through CariCord during her stages of pregnancy, can be used for anemia treatment and potentially cerebral palsy as well.

One study* evaluated the efficiency of using stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood to treat patients with cerebral palsy. This trial was randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind, for added accuracy in its results. The trial consisted of 36 children with CP, from the ages of 6 months to 20 years. These children were either treated with umbilical cord blood or a placebo. After treatment, researches evaluated muscle strength and gross motor function at months 1, 3, and 6. The patients cytokine and receptor levels were quantitated in serial blood samples.

The end result of this treatment showed that the patients who received the cord blood showed greater improvements in their muscle strength, as well as in their gross motor performance. PET scans also revealed decreased periventricular inflammation in those who received the cord blood, compared to those who received the placebo instead. Cord blood was also shown to improve motor outcomes and induced systemic immune reactions and anti-inflammatory changes in the brain.

Overall, the results of this study and stem cell research are very positive in terms of developing a therapy that can affectively treat cerebral palsy in infants and children. While future trials are needed to confirm whether or not umbilical cord blood can be a sustainable treatment for CP, this research indicates that stem cell research is already moving in that direction.

Soon, cord blood may be an option for treating CP, in addition to cancer, leukemia, anemia treatment, and more than 80 different diseases. Because it can only be collected at the birth of a child after a mother’s stages of pregnancy, it is important for expecting mothers to make the decision during their pregnancy stages to store their child’s cord blood in CariCord’s secure umbilical cord blood bank. Once the child is born, the option to store cord blood for future use is no longer available; it is a decision expecting parents must make during their stages of pregnancy.

*Mr. Mino Kang, Prof. Kyunghoon Min, Dr. Joonyoung Jang, Mr. Seung Chan Kim, Prof. Myung Seo Kang, Prof. Su Jin Jang, Prof. Ji Young Lee, Prof. Sang Heum Kim, Dr. Moon Kyu Kim, Seong Soo A. An, and Prof. MinYoung Kim. Stem Cells and Development. -Not available-, ahead of print. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/scd.2015.0074

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