Tuesday, March 11, 2008

(Cord blood) stem cell infusion saves 2-year-old

NBC Nightly News on 11 March 2008 is presenting a story on stem cells from cord blood. The treatment of Dallas Hextell, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, with stem cells from his own cord blood:

The 2-year-old son of the Sacramento, Calif., couple was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but is now showing fewer signs of the disorder and marked improvement after an infusion of his own stem cells — made possible by the preservation of his own cord blood shortly before birth.

Details are discussed by Nancy Snyderman:

“I think it’s important to remind people that cerebral palsy has to do with the motor part of the brain and usually kids don’t deteriorate,” said Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor. “But they have significant motor problems, which explains why he wasn’t a good sucker when he was breast-feeding as a baby and all of this colicky stuff that sort of confused the diagnosis.”

There is no known cure for cerebral palsy, and the treatments to help manage its debilitating effects make it the second-most expensive developmental disability to manage over a person’s lifetime, behind mental disabilities.

At 18 months, Dallas had very limited motor skills. He could not crawl, clap or sit up and he communicated only through screaming brought on mostly by pain and frustration.

Of the decision to save the cord blood -->

During her pregnancy, Cynthia Hextell had done thorough Web research on health issues relating to childbirth and came across a pop-up ad for Cord Blood Registry, the world’s largest family cord blood stem cell bank. The San Bruno, Calf.-based company has preserved cord blood stem cells for more than 200,000 newborns throughout the world.

Hextell said the cost of saving Dallas’ cord blood — about $2,000 and not covered by insurance — was off-putting. But she ultimately registered for CBR, thinking she would rather put up the money and not use it rather than have saved it and regretted it later.

(Cord Blood Registry spokesman David Zitlow said the procedure costs $2,000 for processing and $120 per year for storage.)

Nightly News mentioned the work of Joanne Kurtzburg of Duke University:

Dallas was accepted into a clinical trial at Duke University. By placing his own stem cells back into his body through a simple IV, doctors hoped the cells would heal the damaged part of his brain.
"The hope is that the infusion of these cells would lessen the severity of cerebral palsy in these children,” explained Duke University’s Joanne Kurtzburg.
Insurance did not cover the $12,000 for the experimental treatment. Following the procedure, Dallas was brought back to Sacramento, the family waiting to see if the cost and their efforts would pay off. They didn’t have to wait long.
[from WSBT]

See also

Branson going into cord blood (stem cell) storage business?


Nightly News also covered developments in the treatment of Alzheimers:

work by investigator Scott Small, M.D. at Columbia University

The polymerization of beta-amyloid (A beta) peptides into fibrillary plaques is implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.

****UPDATE. refer to Los Angeles Times story
Cord blood: Banking on false hopes? which ends with the text:

Stem cell scientists say that the trial in which Dallas took part is very preliminary, and that until findings are published there is no way to know whether his gains had to do with the cord blood or whether he would have improved anyway.

Even the Duke scientist who treated Dallas says she is uncomfortable with the publicity his case has received and that it is too soon to judge the treatment.


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