July 30, 2014

Today, cord blood stem cell transplants are changing lives and making great advances for patients in the treatments of more than 80 diseases, disorders and injuries, and the treatments of the future look just as promising. Many experimental therapies utilizing cord blood are being studied, that could make a significant impact in the cures and management of many more diseases in the years and decades to come. Hydrocephalus could potentially be one of those diseases treated someday with a cord blood stem cell transplant.

Hydrocephalus is a medical condition found mostly in pediatric cases where the brain accumulates an abnormal amount of cerebrospinal fluid causing a buildup of pressure on brain tissue and the swelling of the head to accommodate the excess fluid. Currently, there is no cure for hydrocephalus and surgical procedures to drain excess fluids and relieve pressure are the only treatment. If untreated, it can cause pain, brain damage, mental disabilities and possibly death.

Hydrocephalus is caused by a blockage of the ventricles in the base of the brain where fluid typically drains, or if excess fluids fail to reabsorb into the blood stream. Pediatric hydrocephalus is the leading cause of brain surgeries for children in the U.S., and it occurs in 1 in 500 births. It is as common in children as Downs syndrome, according to the Hydrocephalus Association, and more prevalent than spina bifida or brain tumors.

A FDA-approved study is being conducted by Duke University, looking into the regenerative effects on blood vessels in the brain using a baby’s own umbilical cord blood in a stem cell transplant to treat hydrocephalus1 . Utilizing the neural progenitor cells from the cord blood, which are cells that already have a specific function, the cells go to work to facilitate the repair to any damaged cells or tissue. The study compares results from children who received an autologous cord blood stem cell transplant to those who did not undergo a transplant. This study is ongoing and researchers are optimistic about the outcome and potential treatments for those suffering with this disease.

Cord blood uses in medical treatments are still relatively new to the medical field and are being studied extensively. Every new treatment found to have an effect on a different disease, illness, disorder or injury, using cord blood stem cells, has positive repercussions for not only those involved, but across the medical community in general. By banking your child’s cord blood, you avail your child to the possibility of treatments for countless diseases and illnesses that are already being treated and cured and even, those yet to be discovered.

  1. Published online October 18, 2012, http://www.hydroassoc.org/duke-medical-schools-receives-fda-approval-for-stem-cell-product/
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