Researchers gave 30 children with cerebral palsy a special treatment course, which included donated umbilical cord blood cells, for six months. As noted in the Stem Cells journal, these children saw significant improvements in brain and movement function. The children who made the most progress were those aged three and under. Other patients with cerebral palsy in the study receiving different treatments didn’t exhibit the same improvements.
“I think this is the most promising study we’ve ever seen in the area of stem cells,” says the head of research at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, an Australian nonprofit cerebral palsy support center. “This is looking like a possible path to a cure.”
Some background: Umbilical cord blood contains a set of unique immune cells known “regulatory T-cells,” in addition to stem cells. The stem cells can to grow into any of the body’s 200-plus cell types. Because of its unique properties, cord blood is harvested immediately after birth, and then cryogenically frozen for medical use.
According to the Australian (which used the Stem Cells article as the basis for its article), further study is needed before doctors can prescribe the treatment. While the research is still in its early stages, the results may come as goods news to the nearly 800,000 adults and children living with cerebral palsy in the United States.