Cerebral palsy is a collective term for disorders resulting from perinatal brain injury. Cerebral palsy can also be caused by other factors like premature birth, uterus infection, lack of nutritional support and oxygen during development, and genetic aberrations. While cerebral palsy causes are multifactorial, the injury consistently progresses towards neuro-motor deficits, leading to visual and cognitive impairments. As a therapeutic measure, stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy treatment is a regenerative alternative that has the potential to replace damaged and non-functional cells in the brain, as well as to provide support for neurons and oligodendrocytes.
What are Stem Cells?
Two properties of stem cells that place them as unique therapeutic candidates are: the potential to self-proliferate and differentiate into other cell lineages. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), found in the developing embryo, are pluripotent stem cells with the potential to differentiate into all cell types found in the human body. ESCs have a unique potential for repairing damaged tissue because of their wide differentiation capacity. However, researchers are still working on piecing together the correct puzzle pieces to understand the mechanism of desired differentiation paths. A consequence of this dilemma leads to ESC-derived cells getting reverted back to their pluripotent state and become tumorigenic. Another major issue with ESCs is the ethical and moral dilemma due to the derivation of ESCs from the embryo.
While ESCs are excellent sources for differentiated cells, they are not implantation-convenient due to the tumorigenic risk. For neurodisorder therapies, neural precursor cells (NPCs) and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are commonly used, owing to their specific differentiation lineages and lack of tumorigenic tendency.
NPCs are stem cells within the central nervous system (CNS). They fall under multipotent stem cells. NPCs can be taken from donor, grown in a culture dish, and then transplanted into the patient, after processing. NPCs have a unique benefit over other stem cell types for cerebral palsy treatment. Their capability to differentiate into brain cells provides them a unique benefit for cerebral palsy treatment to appropriately integrate into injured brain tissue and replace the damaged/non-functional cells. However, the drawback of NPCs is their limited supply and an invasive method of retrieval from donors. Moreover, there is limited research on the use of NPCs for treating cerebral palsy.
MSCs are more commonly used for cerebral palsy therapeutics. MSCs have two main origins: bone marrow (BMMSCs) or umbilical cord blood (UC-MSCs). MSCs are multipotent and also have the potential to differentiate into various cell lineages, playing structural and immunological roles. The benefits of MSCs are their easy accessibility and immunomodulatory properties. However, as a limitation, MSCs lack the complete potential to differentiate into all functional cells of CNS.
Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trials for Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Currently there are over 10 clinical trials worldwide using stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy treatment. Many of these trials are using bone marrow/blood-derived mononuclear cells (hematopoietic stem cells and BM-MSCs). Others use purified hematopoietic stem cells and UC-MSCs. Many of these trials have passed initial phases but the evaluation of correct dosage and safety needs more screening. These trials are helpful in testing the efficacy of stem cells in cerebral palsy treatment. Initial studies have shown improvements in cognitive and motor functions for patients receiving stem cell therapy. None of the in-process clinical trials use NPCs or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). However, learning NPCs and iPSCs-based therapeutic understanding and maximize their potential is an ongoing area of research that requires a lot of time and money.
The promise of stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy is great and holds a potential in revolutionizing medicine but, it is unlikely that stem cells will be able to provide a one-stop magic bullet to cure cerebral palsy by alleviating all related symptoms. For more information on stem cell therapy and cerebral palsy treatment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and get free medical consultation.