Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a non-progressive condition that is characterised by functional motor disability associated with different degrees of cognitive abnormalities. It is usually as a result of metabolic, genetic, infectious or traumatic causes to name but a few. As it is, there are no treatments that can cure or alleviate symptoms of CP and the condition is addressed through functional, social and nutritional supportive care.
Stem cells are multipotent progenitor cells that have exhibited regenerative and growth stimulating properties. They have the capacity to induce angiogenesis and differentiate into different types of cells including cells of the nervous system. There are several types of stem cells such as the Bone Marrow Mononuclear cells (BMMC) which include the hematopoietic and mesenchymal cells found in the bone marrow (MSCs)
Cerebral Palsy Stem Cell Study
In conducting a study, 17 patients with CP, aged over 1 year to 17 years were enrolled and treated sequentially with BMMCs. The patients were included if they had CP without significant cardiac, renal or hepatic complications. The patients were evaluated based on the Gross Motor Function Classification system (GMFCS) according to their motor skills and their cognitive skills before and after the treatment.
The improvement was notable in the degree of spasticity in 40 percent of the patients with reports of bowel and bladder control enhancement along with the motility and independent activity. The cognitive function assessment also revealed significant improvement in 6 patients.
Despite the fact that not every patient improved, a bigger percentage of patients demonstrated significant enhancements in function to the point of independence, that is, 27 percent of them. Analysis from the study indicated that improvement did not correlate with the age of the patients, type or severity of CP despite that the patient cohort was too small to make definite conclusions.
The BMMCs are seen to generate neurons and other supportive cells. Going forward, the transplanted bone marrow cells infiltrate the brain and may aid in the regeneration of new elements or stop the neurodegenerative process resulting in potential repair of the damaged tissues.
It was recorded that there was improvement among the CP cases more so in muscle tone and in speech with no significant adverse effects. In addition, there was notable improvement in the quality of life.
Conclusion from the Study
There was reported safety and efficacy of BMMCs injected once into patients with different types of CP. The injections could be repeated theoretically to continue the improvement or add to it over time should the patient benefit from this approach.
However, there exists no clarity on the ideal number of injections, the injection schedule and if it is advantageous to add growth factors to maximise upon the above effect. Findings indicated that nearly 70 percent of patients with CP may benefit from this treatment.
There was a significant degree of improvement in spasticity, cognitive, functional as well as bladder and bowel control. It is important to note that the stem cell therapy has to be complemented by intense physical and cognitive stimulation.
H/T: International Journal of Stem Cells