Cord blood studied to reverse cerebral palsy

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by KING 5 HealthLink

KING5.com

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 5:00 PM

Jenny and JD Stephenson banked their baby Weston's umbilical cord blood when he was born. 

"We weren't guaranteed to need it for anything," said Jenny Stephenson.

In retrospect they are glad they had banked it. When Weston was ten months old doctors diagnosed him with cerebral palsy. It was devastating for his mother.

"Of course you want the best for him, and you never want anything to be wrong," said Stephenson.

Weston is developmentally delayed and has trouble using his left side. There's no cure but now there's hope, from the toddler's own cord blood. As part of a research study Weston recently got his first infusion.

Duke University Medical Center's Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg
is lead researcher in the new study.

"If this is beneficial, it could really change the lives of those children," said Dr. Kurtzberg.

Dr. Kurtzberg said the theory is that cord blood cells can coax normal cells into fixing damaged tissue, and grow into new cells.

"Cord blood cells can graft and grow into some types of brain cells," she said.

Patients in an earlier study reported improved speech, mobility, and movement. But that study didn't compare cord blood to a placebo. The new study does, offering hope to a little boy whose parents want the best for him.

"It's why you get up every day and go to work," said J.D. Stephanson, Weston's father.
 
"My hope is that we see a miracle, really," said Jennifer Stephenson.

If successful, the treatment has the potential of being that miracle for Weston and other children with cerebral palsy.

The researchers are still looking for families of kids six and under who have cerebral palsy to participate.


 
 

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