Because cerebral palsy is caused by brain injury at birth, stem cell therapy may offer unique benefits and potentially reduce the degree of physical disability in people living with CP. The promise of stem cell therapy is great and heralds a potential revolution in medicine by offering new therapies for conditions that were previously untreatable. However, it is unlikely to provide a comprehensive magic solution to alleviate all clinical symptoms. In the case of CP, stem cell therapy is likely to result in small incremental improvements in function that, in turn, will lead to notable improvements in the quality of life of most patients.
In addition, it is currently unknown how long the beneficial effects of stem cell transplantation will last and whether multiple stem cell transplants will be required over several years to improve or maintain functional recovery. Much more research is needed to determine if stem cell-based treatments will be a safe and effective approach to treating cerebral palsy. Systemic pathways may be sufficient to modulate inflammation, but are likely to be deficient in treating local CNS lesions due to the risk of cell entrapment in other organs and their limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. In contrast, autologous stem cells present a minimal risk of immune rejection, since they come from the patient.
We conducted a systematic literature search in PubMed and EMBASE to find randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) investigating the effect of stem cell transplantation in children with CP. Cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe symptoms and often occurs along with other impairments or disabilities. The other problem is that regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and Health Canada, have difficulty developing standardized guidelines for the production and use of stem cells. As there is no specific treatment for CP, rehabilitation is the current option for treating patients.
In the following video (just after the 1-minute mark), Arnold Caplan, PhD, explains the mechanism by which the donor's mesenchymal stem cells are protected from the recipient's immune system. This variety reflects the scope and variability of pathobiology involving different areas of the central nervous system and makes it very difficult to study a real homogeneous group of subjects (7,. This type of treatment would allow the child's own stem cells to be used to repair damaged tissues. Neural stem cell transplants or drugs that activate natural neural stem cells could repair and replace neurons and other supporting brain cells.
There is evidence that growth factors, such as those released by stem cells, may help improve brain regeneration (32—3). Read more to learn more about how researchers hope to treat cerebral palsy in the future with stem cells. The adult stem cells used to treat cerebral palsy at the Stem Cell Institute come from human umbilical cord tissue (allogeneic mesenchymal). The team is developing reproducible animal models of PC and injecting these stem cells into the brain.