Cerebral palsy (cp) is the subject of some very exciting umbilical cord blood stem cell research. The research uses a patient’s cord blood to ascertain if cord blood could provide an effective treatment for cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a condition which affects the brain causing involuntary muscle spasms. There are four kinds of cerebral palsy:
Monoplegia – affects one limb, usually an arm
Hemiplegia – affects one side of the body
Diplegia – affects either both arms or both legs
Quadriplegia – affects all four limbs
Cerebral palsy is caused when the brain becomes starved of oxygen and while this can be the result of an illness or accident it is often caused due to complications in pregnancy or birth. Cerebral palsy is the most common disability in childhood; in fact it is so common that every hour another child is born with cp.
Could cord blood treat cerebral palsy?
Treatments and therapies for cerebral palsy are generally symptomatic but stem cell research could change that and offer the hope of an effective treatment for cerebral palsy itself. A South Korean study has shown that umbilical cord blood stem cells have made dramatic improvements in patients with cerebral palsy including improvements in cognition, brain development and movement.
Joanne Kurtzberg is heading a study at Duke University using cord blood to treat cerebral palsy. Her pioneering research has investigated the effects of umbilical cord blood infusions with children who have cerebral palsy and the study has shown encouraging results. The results yielded by this study has enabled Kurtzberg to secure funding for a new five year study, this will enable her to continue her work investigating the role umbilical cord blood stem cells could play in the treatment of cerebral palsy and other brain disorders and illnesses.