Big Dilemma. To use or not use CORD BLOOD to treat Cerbral Palsy?

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Offline srm

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Hello everyone I'm new to the forum. Hope I'm posting this in the right section.

My son was diagnosed with a mild to moderate cerebral palsy (semi-hemiparasis w/spasticity) at about 8 months of age. I did boat loads of research and found that cord blood saved from birth is being given back to the child as a treatment. Cord blood is used for many other things successfully but use with CP is new. There are no studies to say "YES" it works but many family's say they do see an improvement.

At first glance you would think that this is an easy decision. However, there are several things to consider.

a. side effects : none are known, and since it is the child's own blood there should be none.....however could it be possible for the excess cells to be damaged? and thereby form a tumor?

b. future needs : cord blood successfully treats cancer in kids and who knows what the future may hold in new cures.

c. using half only : an option is using half the blood and refreezing the other half. but will thawing out the cells and refreezing compromise the integrity (for lack of a better word) of the cells

d. severity of the CP : our neurologist says that our boy seems to be very alert and has no reason to believe why he wont have average intelligence if not higher. she says that not enough is known in the long term and we may otherwise effect him some how. PLUS in the future there will be more "targeted" ways to deliver the cells.

e. time : the brain does major developing in the first two years of life. the clock is ticking, if we are going to do this we'd like to do it before he turns 2. He's 1 1/2 now.

Well these are a few but the majority of our concerns. He is walking now thankfully but has a weakness on the right side, and cannot grasps things with any strength or agility.  We just want to give him the best chance possible at life.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Offline chris

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Hello Sam.

I am not aware of any studies showing any benefit of stem cell infusion in the context of "mature" cerebral palsy; there are people working on the use of therapies delivered close to the time of birth when the neurological injury is "fresh" and hence might be more amenable to this sort of treatment, but not later.

I am doubtful whether you would see a dramatic improvement, although it occurs to me that there is very little to lose by trying. Cord blood cells are safe, they are effectively bone marrow stem cells, and because they are the child's own, there are no immunological risks associated with their use. The size of any effect is also likely to be related to the cell dose, so if you're going to do it I'd give the whole lot.

In terms of concern about using them up and having none left, I think I'd throw caution to the wind and put your faith in medical science; by this I mean that I don't think it will be that long before we are clinically re-creating an individual's stem cells on-tap and tailor-made to a specific tissue. Certainly this will happen by the time your son might need them for other reasons.

My thinking would be that if there is any benefit to be gained, and you are right that the nervous system is most plastic when young and declines in plasticity with age, then now's the time to try it. Your son would probably much rather you tried and failed than have a bunch of cells stored in liquid nitrogen that he may never use. On the other hand, if it does produce a clinical benefit, he'll be very grateful.

The bottom line is that you shouldn't expect too much. Cerebral palsy is a complicated condition which is still poorly understood. Its amenability to this kind of therapy is also unknown. But what I will say is that I know quite a few people with CP who are frighteningly intelligent so you shouldn't assume that the motor deficit will be mirrored by a cognitive deficit - this is often not the case.

One final piece of advice would be that if you do decided to proceed I would see if you can find anyone who is conducting a trial on stem cell therapy in CP and ask to join it. Then your chuild can be thoroughly assessed neurologically prior to and after the procedure.

« Last Edit: 26/02/2008 10:40:47 by chris »
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