A clinical trial has shown that autologous [the patient’s own] stem cell infusions can accelerate improvements in motor function of children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain is damaged either before or during birth and has varying levels of severity, but in all cases, affects movement and speech. CP children typically receive physical and occupational therapy and will make subtle improvements with age, as their bodies develop. In the double blind clinical trial in which some children were given a placebo and others were given varying amounts of stem cells, those who received approximately 25 million cells per kilogram of body weight showed substantial improvement in motor skills when tested a year following the treatment. The improvement was significant when compared to the expected normal yearly improvement CP children typically make, and was also greater than that of the children who received the smaller dosage. In the next phase of the clinical trial, researchers seek to determine whether continuous stem cell infusions could improve motor function even more significantly.
Researchers at the University Hospital Niño Jesus in Madrid, Spain, are conducting a clinical trial to determine the safety and efficacy of treating cerebral palsy patients with hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood, as well as mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] from umbilical cord tissue. The scientists will compare the two types of autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells in their effectiveness regarding immune-regulation, anti-inflammatory activity, and stimulation of brain tissue regeneration.
Due to the initial success of an experiment conducted by Duke University, doctors in Spain are now attempting a clinical trial in which stem cells are utilized to treat children with cerebral palsy. According to Dr. Luis Mader, the doctor performing the transplants, “Though this type of treatment is still in its very early stages, it is believed that regenerative therapies with stem cells could be a therapeutic option to regenerate the nerve tissue and repair brain damage."
In November 2008, a little boy suffered from cardiac arrest resulting in severe brain damage and a persistent vegetative state with his body paralyzed. These symptoms represent what is known as ‘infantile’ cerebral palsy, which has no known treatment. Despite the bleak prognosis, the boy’s parents found a way to drastically change their son’s life; through a transplant using his own stem cells that they chose to bank when he was born.