Can Umbilical Cord Blood and Tissue Stem Cells Treat Cerebral Palsy?
1 in every 345 children are living with Cerebral Palsy, making it one of the most common motor function disabilities in children.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a devastating disorder. It permanently damages muscle coordination and body movement. CP is caused by atypical brain development or damage to the developing brain that impacts the child’s ability to control their movements.
When are Children Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy?
The majority of cerebral palsy cases (85%-90%) occur prior to or during birth and fall into the category of congenital CP. Some of the causes can include premature birth, low birthweight, medical issues during pregnancy or at the time of birth, or illnesses and injuries as a newborn or infant. Early signs of CP can be observed as early as 6 months with most developmental delays identified by 30 months.
Is there a Cure for Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is a permanent neurological condition with no known cure. However, there are new promising areas of research using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood and umbilical cord tissue as treatment options. These treatments may help improve your child’s motor function.
Recent Clinical Trials for Cerebral Palsy
Study #1: Autologous Cord Blood Stem Cell Infusion
A phase II trial of autologous cord blood stem cell infusion in children with cerebral palsy was conducted to determine whether autologous stem cell infusion could improve gross motor function.
In a double-blind, randomized control trial, 63 children, ages 1 to 6 years, were placed in the cord blood stem cell treatment group or the placebo control group. The treatment group received a single intravenous infusion of 10 to 50 million cells per kilogram (kg) of body weight.
While there were no significant differences between the stem cell treatment group versus the placebo control group at 1 year, further analyses demonstrated that there was a significant improvement in motor function and developmental motor scales at a dose of 20 million cells per kg versus those patients receiving a dose less than 20 million cells per kg.
Key Takeaway: This study demonstrated that a minimum dose of 20 million cells per kg of autologous cord blood stem cells was necessary to demonstrate a significant improvement in motor function 1 year post-treatment.
Study #2: Autologous / Allogeneic Cord Blood Stem Cell Infusion
In an open-label study, 15 children, aged 1 to 6 years, with moderate to severe spastic cerebral palsy were treated with a single infusion of HLA matched or partially matched sibling cord blood stem cells (>25 million cells per kg). Over the 2 year observation period, there were 49 adverse events, but no adverse events related to the cord blood infusion including the absence of antibody formation against platelets, red blood cells, or donor-specific HLA antigens. Six months after the stem cell infusion, the children demonstrated improvements in gross motor function and developmental motor scales.
Key Takeaway: This study demonstrated that a minimum dose of 25 million cells per kg of autologous or sibling cord blood stem cells was able to achieve a significant improvement in motor function at 6 months with no adverse effects related to the infusion of cord blood.
Study #3: Umbilical Cord Blood Mesenchymal Stem Cell Infusion
In single-blind, randomized controlled trial, 54 children, ages 3 – 12, were placed in the cord blood mesenchymal stem cell (CB-MSC) treatment group or the placebo control group. The treatment group received 4 infusions of CB-MSCs at a fixed dose of 50 million cells. The treatment group demonstrated significant improvements in gross motor function and comprehensive function assessment scores at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months post-treatment compared to the control group.
Key Takeaway: This study demonstrated that four infusions at a fixed dose of 50 million MSCs derived from cord blood were able to achieve significant improvements in motor function starting at 3 months and continuing throughout the 24 month duration of the study.
Study #4: Umbilical Cord Tissue Mesenchymal Stem Cell Infusion
In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, 40 children, ages 2-12, were placed in the cord tissue mesenchymal stem cell (CT-MSC) treatment group or the placebo control group. The treatment group received 4 doses of 45 to 55 million MSCs derived from the Wharton’s jelly of the cord tissue. There were no significant differences in the incidence rate of adverse events between the two groups. However, there were significant improvements in activities of daily living, comprehensive function assessment, and gross motor function scores.
Key Takeaway: The study demonstrated that four doses of 45 to 55 million MSCs derived from Wharton’s jelly were able to demonstrate significant improvement in motor function and activities of daily living without any significant differences in the incidence of adverse events.
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