Stem Cell Treatment

What is the latest research on using umbilical cord blood derived cell therapy as treatment for newborns who sustain brain injuries?

When a baby is born with a brain injury, due to asphyxia, infection, stroke or prematurity, the blood from the umbilical cord can be collected and infused into the baby as a form of treatment. This has been demonstrated to be both safe and feasible.  But how effective is it in reducing the effects of newborn brain injury?

This paper is the first systematic review and meta-analysis assessing the effect of umbilical cord blood (UCB)-derived cell therapy in the treatment of newborn brain injury across a range of preclinical models.

The initial results are hopeful. The review concluded that UBC-derived cell therapy was effective, with improvement in outcomes across a wide variety of neuropathological, biochemical and functional parameters.

It is, however, important to keep in mind that these studies are early in their development and are primarily using animal models, raising questions about the reliability of some of the results.

The paper identified some interesting areas to be explored further, including a better understanding of how UCB-derived cell therapy may work synergistically when used in combination with other treatment. The authors note that the use of stem cells in combination with other therapies such as therapeutic hypothermia (cooling therapy) may provide increased protection and benefits to newborn who have sustained brain injuries around the time of their birth.  Further, there is potential for the use of stem cells from other sources such as bone marrow, umbilical cord tissue (i.e. Wharton Jelly) and other placental tissues.

While these studies are in their early phases and many questions remain about the efficacy of stem cell treatment, it is encouraging to see the increasing focus on this area of treatment following brain injury around the time of birth.

Parent resources

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CP Smile Project

The CP Smile Project is a community project that helps ensure children with cerebral palsy have access to recreational opportunities that allow them to engage in play and community involvement. We give monthly bursaries to families to help them provide the support needed for their child to engage in play and have fun.