James Baumgartner, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Florida
Hospital, is trying to see if the stem cells in cord blood can
help babies who have a stroke around the time of birth.
type of stroke ó called perinatal stroke ó occurs in 1 in
1,000 to 1 in 3,000 babies, according to estimates. These
babies usually develop cerebral palsy, have trouble with
cognition, walking, bladder function, and many have epilepsy
thatís difficult to treat.
Iím curious about is can the nervous system be repaired or
repair itself with cellular therapy," said Baumgartner,
surgical director of Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Florida
Hospital for Children.
small study is still at very early stages and itís
challenging, because not all strokes are the same. The Florida
Hospital for Children team is working with Cord Blood Registry
to identify willing families whose children have had perinatal
qualify, the families come to the hospital for an overnight
treatment and for several follow-up visits.
goal at this time is to see if cord blood infusion (cellular
therapy) is safe and if it helps with the kidsí hand
movement, improves their bladder function and reduces the
number of their seizures.
weíre going to use pretty sophisticated neuroimaging to see
if we have altered the trajectory of brain damage, with a
simple thought that if you preserve more brain, the patient
ought to do better," Baumgartner said.
suggest that after an injury like stroke, the bodyís immune
system is activated and it may be suppressing the nervous
systemís repair machinery.
early research suggests that infusion of cord-blood stem cells
via a simple IV dials down that immune response, potentially
allowing the nerve cells that arenít completely injured to
was taught youíre born with every nerve cell youíll ever
have, and repair is impossible. Itís clearly not true. So
thatís what weíre playing around with: the brain
repair/regeneration and the interaction of immune system and
the nervous system," he said.
area of research, which focuses on therapy with human cells
instead of using drugs, is a growing area of research.
another small study, Baumgartner and colleagues showed that
bone marrow stem cells can reduce the intensity of severe
traumatic brain injury in children.
also conducting another study to see if cord-blood stem cells
can help repair certain kinds of hearing loss in children.
That study has not been published yet, but "everyone
thinks weíre moving in a good direction," Baumgartner