Study to Evaluate Umbilical Cord Blood Infusions for Cerebral Palsy

A new study underway at Duke University may provide new hope for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, examining whether umbilical cord blood infusions may improve symptoms of the incurable disability. 

Researchers in the Duke Translational Medicine Institute are conducting clinical trials that involve injecting children with cerebral palsy with their own umbilical cord blood in hopes that the stem cells in the blood will heal damaged cells and restore some functionality.

The trial, known as the Cerebral Palsy Autologous Cord Blood Study, follows a number of reports over the years of successful single cases of treatment with stem cells and cord blood by different doctors from around the world.

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Doctors Joanne Kurtzberg and Jessica Sun are currently looking for enrollees in the study. The subjects must be between the ages of 12 months and six years, have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and their parents have to have stored their own qualified umbilical cord blood at birth. They must also be willing to travel to Duke University for the procedure.

Cerebral palsy is a condition that involves disorders of movement control and muscle coordination, which is commonly associated with seizures, sensory impairments and cognitive limitations.

There is no known cure for Cerebral palsy, which is caused by brain damage that can occur before, during or shortly after the birth. If the brain of a baby is deprived of oxygen, it can result in the irreversible damage that leaves the child with a life-time of developmental problems, loss of motor functions and other disabilities.

Experts have suggested that stem cells inside of banked cord blood can travel to damaged portions of the brain and nervous system, helping to heal damaged areas. They may also take the place of damaged cells, becoming any kind of cell needed to repair the damage.

The study would last two years and focus on the effects of cord blood injections on spastic cerebral palsy, which involves stiff and weak muscles. Some children will receive placebo shots and staff members will not know which children received the actual cord blood cells.

The costs of the cerebral palsy cord blood treatments will be covered by the study. Parents interested in participating should call the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at (919) 668-1100.


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