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Dylan's hope (Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy)

Alex Paul,, May 16, 2010

The possibility of using stem cells to treat cerebral palsy has been suggested by several scientists based on the ability of these cells to: a) stimulate regeneration of damaged nervous system tissue; b) to prevent ongoing death of neurons; and c) to directly turn into, or "differentiate" into neurons. This is explained in the video

One type of stem cell therapy that is currently under investigation for cerebral palsy involves administration of cells from the umbilical cord blood. This treatment has been the subject of much interest because of the possibility of using cord blood from other patients. Routinely performed outside of the United States, Dr. Joanne Kurtzburg from Duke University has been the first to perform this treatment under the regulations of the FDA. This recent story provides a personal description of one of the patients treated.

In May 2009 5-year old Dylan Cain could only speak about 30 words and could not interact with family and friends. Subsequent to receiving a cord blood transplant Dylan had a "miraculous" recovery according to parents.

"They told us at Duke that it might be months before we saw any sign of improvement," Mother Jinger Cain said. "Just six weeks after we returned home, he started to answer questions. His right leg straightened out a bit, and his vocabulary has expanded amazingly."

"The speech therapist found that Dylan had progressed 5-plus months in the 3 1/2-month period of time, which means he is progressing faster than his peers," Jinger said. "What is even more impressive is that before the stem cells and hyperbaric treatments, he was progressing at a rate of one month for every four months that went by, or three to four months of development in a year, so he was consistently falling behind his peers. Now he is progressing five times faster than before, and that has blown away his teacher and therapists at the school he attends, as well as his doctors."

Jinger said that Dylan's teacher in Bend told her she has never seen a child make such gains in her 20 years of teaching.

Successes such as this case have prompted other doctors to performed clinical trials assessing in a standardized fashion whether stem cells actually impact cerebral palsy. Dr. James E Carroll, (706) 721-3371, of The Medical College of Georgia has recently announced initiation of a 40 patient placebo controlled trial in patients with cerebral palsy between 2-12. For more information please see the link below.

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