Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Clinical Trials Use Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells to Treat Neurological Conditions and Hearing Loss

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Umbilical cord and umbilical cord blood contains a wealth of stem cells for multiple uses. Cord blood contains a blood cell-making stem cell that can be used to constitute bone marrow (see Gluckman E., Blood Rev. 2011;25(6):255-9). It also contains two mesenchymal stem cell populations: Wharton’s Jelly Mesenchymal Stem Cells (WJ-MSCs) and Human Umbilical Cord Perivascular Cells (HUCPVCs). Both of these cell populations have remarkable potential or regenerative medicine (Carvalho MM., et al.Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2011;6(3):221-8). Other umbilical cord stem cells include unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs; Arien-Zakay H, Lazarovici P, Nagler A., Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2010;23(2):291-303), embryonic-like stem cells, blood vessel-based endothelial stem cells, and a stem cell that comes from those cells that cover tissues (epithelial stem cells; see Harris DT., Stem Cell Rev. 2008;4(4):269-74, & Harris DT., Br J Haematol. 2009;147(2):177-84).

The usefulness of cord blood has been recognized by the medical community for some time, and there are now umbilical cord blood registries that bank cord blood for medical use and for research. One of these registries, the Cord Blood Registry (CBR) works with various research laboratories to help discover ways to use a child’s own cord blood stem cells to treat conditions like pediatric brain injury or even acquired hearing loss. Because different laboratories use different protocols or equipment to process umbilical cord blood, the experimental results derived from experiments or clinical trials that use cord blood might vary widely. Therefore, to ensure consistency in the storage and processing of cord blood stems, three separate clinical trials have used cord blood that provided by the CBR in their FDA-authorized protocols. These research institutions include the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in partnership with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Georgia Health Sciences University, which is the home of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). CBR is the only family stem cell bank that pairs researchers conducting clinical trials with prospective patients for their studies.

Heather Brown, MS, CGC, Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs at Cord Blood Registry, put it this way: “Partnering with a series of specialists who want to research the use of a child’s own newborn blood stem cells on a variety of disease states allows CBR to help advance medical research for regenerative therapies by connecting the child whose family banked with CBR to appropriate researchers. The pediatric specialists from UTHealth, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Georgia Health Sciences University are at the forefront of stem cell research as they evaluate cord blood stem cells’ ability to help facilitate the healing process after damage to nerves and tissue.”

One of the clinical trials examined the ability of cord blood stem cells to treat hearing loss. Hearing loss can result from problems with the middle ear, which conducts sound to the cochlea (conductive hearing loss) or from problems with the inner ear, in which the cochlea itself is damaged or defective (sensorineural hearing). Sensorineural hearing loss affects approximately 6 per 1,000 children by 18 years of age, with 9% of the cases resulting from various external causes (e.g., viral infection and head injury). Samer Fakhri, M.D., surgeon at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and associate professor and program director in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at UTHealth, heads the research team investigating the use of cord blood to treat sensorineural hearing loss. His collaborator is James Baumgartner, M.D.

The Fakhri-Baumgartner study is a Phase I safety study that uses cord blood-based stem cells to treat children who suffer from acquired hearing loss. The inspiration for this trial comes from animal studies that used cord blood to repair damaged organs in the inner ear. The paper (Revoltella RP., et al., Cell Transplant. 2008;17(6):665-78), used mice that had been made deaf from treatment with aminoglycoside antibiotics, which cause irreversible deafness at particular dosages, and intensely loud noises, which also cause deafness. Intravenous administration of hematopoietic stem cells from umbilical cord blood stimulated some structural recovery in the inner ear that was due to umbilical cord stem cells that had survived and become part of the inner ear tissues.

Parents of children 6 weeks to 2 years old that had experiences hearing soon after birth are eligible for this year-long study. Baumgartner explains, “The window of opportunity to foster normal language development is limited. This is the first study of its kind with the potential to actually restore hearing in children and allow for more normal speech and language development.”

Another clinical trial is examining the ability of cord blood to treat brain trauma. Children who experience brain injury heal better than adults who experienced the same injury. Having said that brain trauma is one of the leading causes of childhood death. Charles S. Cox, M.D., distinguished professor of pediatric surgery and pediatrics at UTHealth, initiated a clinical study that will enroll 10 children ages 18 months to 17 years old, all of whom have umbilical cord blood banked with CBR, and have suffered some type of traumatic brain injury. These children will enroll in the study within 6-18 months of suffering brain injury. This trial grows from a growing corpus of studies that have demonstrated the efficacy of umbilical blood stem cells to treat neurological conditions. Read more about the trial here.

According the Charles Cox, “The reason we have become interested in cord blood cells is because of the possibility of autologous therapy, meaning using your own cells. And the preclinical models have demonstrated some really fascinating neurological preservation effects to really support these Phase 1 trials. There’s anecdotal experience in other types of neurological injuries that reassures us in terms of the safety of the approach and there are some anecdotal hints at it being beneficial in certain types of brain injury.”

James Carroll professor and chief of pediatric neurology at the GHSU in Augusta, Georgia, launched the first FDA-regulated clinical trial to test the ability of cord blood stem cell infusions to improve the condition of children with cerebral palsy. This clinical trial will include 40 children whose parents have banked their umbilical cord blood at CBR and meet all the criteria for inclusion in the trial.

Dr. Carroll explains: “Using a child’s own stem cells as a possible treatment is the safest form of stem cell transplantation because it carries virtually no threat of immune system rejection. Our focus on cerebral palsy breaks new ground in advancing therapies to change the course of these kinds of brain injury–a condition for which there is currently no cure.”

Brain injuries or lack of oxygen either before birth, during birth, or during the first years of life can damage specific motor pathways in the brain and lead to an inability properly move, learn, hear, see, or think normally. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2-3 / 1,000 children are affected by cerebral palsy.

These clinical trials are part of an innovative push that partners clinical researchers with patients. They also represent a move from preclinical studies with cord blood stem cells in animals, to human clinical trials with genuine human patients. Heather Brown put it this way: “The benefits of cord blood stem cells being very young, easy to obtain, unspecialized cells which have had limited exposure to environmental toxins or infectious diseases and easy to store for long terms without any loss of function, make them an attractive source for cellular therapy researchers today. We are encouraged to see interest from such diverse researchers from neurosurgeons to endocrinologists and cardiac specialists.”

Great Article. One of the sentences that really stood out to me was this: Dr. Carroll explains: “Using a child’s own stem cells as a possible treatment is the safest form of stem cell transplantation because it carries virtually no threat of immune system rejection." Not only could your baby's cord blood stem cells save their lives but the risks of the transplant are virtually minimal compared to other transplant options. Stem cells are revolutionizing the way we treat diseases and the science will just continue to grow............MrCordBlood

Waisan Poon, "Clinical trial of umbilical cord blood stem cells in spina...

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I thought I would share this video about the use of cord blood stem cells and spinal cord injuries. I hope my readers enjoy.............MrCordBlood

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sickle Cell Disease Cured With Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells

In today's 6 For Your Health headlines... Sickle cell disease has been particularly devastating to the African American community. Now during Black History Month there are signs of hope that the tide is turning.

A 10-year-old girl has been cured of sickle cell, disease free for 3 years. The key for her was a stem cell transplant made possible from stored umbilical cord blood. Marianne Favro reports.

Just days after Lucky Mulumba gave birth to her first child, she learned her baby, Carol, had sickle cell anemia.

Lucky Mulumba, mother: "They told us that she had the most severe type and she's going to live a hard life. Some physicians predicted she may not live past ten years."

For the next 6 years, Carol struggled with an endless dose of pain.

Carol Mulumba - sickle cell anemia survivor: "The pain in my head was like a punch; in my stomach it was like a kick. My heart felt like a squeeze and my back felt like a scratch."

Pain so severe she couldn't attend school.

Lucky Mulumba: "Carol was battling for her life. She was getting mini strokes, she was on morphine drips, she was sick."

That's when Carol says her younger brother Mark saved her life. He was born just 2 years after Carol and his parents banked his umbilical cord blood.

The cord blood registry collected and stored the stem cells in the blood as part of a free program called newborn possibilities. When Carol turned 7 she received a stem cell transplant using Mark's banked cells.

Dr. Kate Brown, cord blood registry: "Once the stem cells are in the patient's body, they then reproduce the blood and immune system so we're replacing the sickle-celled blood system with the blood system from a healthy donor."

The treatment worked, curing Carol of sickle cell. She's been disease-free for 3 years.

Carol Mulumba: "Now I feel great. And I don't have any pain and I don't have to visit the doctor all the time."

Which is great because now she has time to enjoy school, give her brother extra hugs for helping save her life and meet with President Obama to tell him how cord blood can be so much more than your lifeline in the womb.

Carol is not the only patient benefiting from cord blood. Doctors say these types of stem cells in umbilical cords are used to treat 80 different diseases including some blood cancers, immune disorders and anemias.

With so many new applications coming out using cord blood stem cells, the decision to bank your baby's cord blood is becoming more important than ever...........MrCordBlood

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keep the FDA Out of All Stem Cell Treatment

Millions of people including children suffer from diseases in our country that rob them from the life they deserve. Stem Cell Treatment offers a proven cure for people that suffer from debilitating illnesses. It is proven over and over again. People travel all over the country to see Stem Cell doctors and experience the relief of being cured of debilitating diseases.

Although President Obama lifted the ban on using Stem Cells, the FDA continues to attempt controlling treatment between doctors and their patients,however the mandate of the FDA is food and drug administration and not medical practice.

Don't allow the FDA and Pharmaceutical companies run our country. We have the right to the care that will stop the suffering of the people in our country. This is outside the jurisdiction of the FDA but they keep filing injunctions and taking these brave doctors away from treating the people. That means suffering people have to wait when the cure is here. Research is no longer necessary. These doctors went forward with out the funding and are saving lives now.

Problems with the FDA discourages other doctors from learning how end the suffering and cure people.

Please put a stop to the FDA now and once and for all keep them out of this field.

Everyone please take a moment to sign and pass along............MrCordBlood

Friday, February 10, 2012

Study Looks at Whether Stem Cells in Cord Blood Might Repair Hearing Loss in Kids

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TORONTO - Researchers have been given the go-ahead to test stem cells from cord blood with the ultimate goal of reversing hearing loss in infants and toddlers whose inner ears have been damaged.

U.S. regulators have approved the Phase I study, which has a primary objective of determining the safety of the experimental stem cell therapy.

The therapy involves transfusing a baby's own stem cells from umbilical cord blood, banked by parents after their child's birth. Ten children aged six weeks to 18 months old with sensorineural hearing loss will be recruited for the study by doctors at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

"We're looking more at the ones that suffer an injury around birth or shortly after birth," said Dr. Samer Fakhri, a specialist in head and neck surgery and principal investigator of the study.

Fakhri, a Montreal native who received his medical training at McGill University, said such injuries to the inner ear can be caused by viral infections and even some medications.

Sensorineural hearing impairment occurs when structures in the inner ear or the nerve pathways between the inner ear and the brain are damaged. The critical structure in the inner ear is the snail-shell-shaped cochlea, which contains "hair cells" that gather electrical signals, which are transferred to the brain and perceived as sound.

A child with this kind of hearing loss can suffer significant impairment, Fakhri said from Houston. "You may hear parts of sounds. You may not hear the sounds at all, or you may hear very faint sounds.

"If they lose hearing at four weeks or five weeks due to a viral infection" — meningitis is a common cause — "we know that there is a tremendous impact," he said.

"There's a lot of research that has been done in child development that has determined that there's really a critical window for children to develop speech, language and social development, and it's probably in the first 18 months."

The idea for the trial was triggered by a 2008 study by European scientists, who infused human cord blood into laboratory mice with induced sensorineural hearing loss. An examination of the treated animals about two months later showed "inner ear organization and structure were basically restored," said Fakhri.

"That was the study that was a proof of concept ... That was such a dramatic result."

Fakhri said the exact role of the stem cells in the repair of damaged tissue in the mice isn't known, but there are a couple of theories.

Stem cells can give rise to many different types of cells in the body, so it may be they effect the repair by regenerating lost hair cells. But a more recent theory suggests that stem cells may go to the site of injury and set off the body's innate repair mechanisms.

"In that sense, they play more of a supporting role," he said.

While regenerating tissues is the great hope of stem cells — and they do appear to hold a lot of promise — the idea that they could restore damaged hearing in humans is still speculative, doctors say.

"This study is really very, very preliminary," said Dr. Robert Harrison, a professor of head and neck surgery at the University of Toronto.

"That's the safety issue," he said, stressing that the FDA-approved study must first ensure the stem cells do no harm to patients. Figuring out if they actually work to repair the organ of hearing would have to be proven in subsequent trials.

"We're a long way from looking at the possible therapeutic value of this in terms of restoring some sort of hearing," said Harrison, a senior scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children and a director of the Hearing Foundation of Canada.

"It's a very theoretical concept, and in my opinion it's not going to happen soon."

Current treatment of sensorineural hearing loss in young children is pretty well restricted to hearing aids or cochlear implants, surgically implanted electronic devices, Fakhri said. Both are used to amplify any residual hearing.

We have seen a lot of stories over the last month talking about the use of cord blood stem cells and hearing loss. Just the possibility of being able to restore some sort of loss in hearing is profound in itself. With every passing day the stem cell industry is bringing new hope to a variety of ailments that one day may be able to use stem cells as treatments or better yet cure a number of diseases. I don't think the future has ever been brighter than now..............MrCordBlood

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cleaning Umbilical Cord With Antiseptic Reduces Health Risks

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KARACHI: Cleaning a newborn’s umbilical cord with an antiseptic can reduce the risk of infection by 42 per cent and death by 38 per cent, according to a study carried out by the Aga Khan University’s division of women and child health.

The research printed on Wednesday in The Lancet was conducted in 1,300 villages in the Dadu district.

According to the study, Pakistan has one of the highest newborn mortality rates (with 53 deaths per 10,000 live births) in the world and up to a third are because of infections.

“Infection risk is greatest in countries where most deliveries take place at home, often attended by unskilled traditional birth attendants [dais] with poor delivery practices,” the study says.

“Unsafe conventions, such as cutting the birth cord with unsterilised instruments, and the application of substances such as ash, surma [lead-based concoctions], oil and even cow dung are practised in many rural areas of Pakistan, and often associated with an increased risk of cord infection and death,” it adds.

About 10,000 newborns were enrolled in the study between January 2008 and June 2009 which looked at the effectiveness of three interventions.

One consisted of birth kits containing an antiseptic solution (chlorhexidine) to be applied to the cord at birth by dais and once daily by family members for up to 14 days, along with a bar of soap and educational messages promoting hand-washing.

The second intervention was the antiseptic solution alone and the third, hand washing only.

The fourth group was advised to practice standard dry cord care recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The study showed that cord cleansing with the CHX reduced the risk of infection in children by 42 per cent and deaths by 38 per cent. Hand washing promotion alone appeared to have no effect on infection or mortality risk.

“Given the large number of newborn deaths that occur due to severe infection in home settings, our study not only provides the evidence that a simple low-cost solution like chlorhexidine can save lives, but also shows that a delivery strategy through packaging in birth kits works,” said Professor Dr Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, the head of the division of women and child health at the AKU, and principal investigator of the study.

“It could be used to scale up coverage of these interventions at birth in both community settings and public sector facilities.
These findings also have substantial implications for public health in South Asia, where many areas share similar cultural, social, and economic characteristics.”

The researchers propose that this intervention be considered for possible inclusion in the range of interventions available to lady health workers of the national programme for family planning and primary care of the government.

The trial was carried out in Dadu with a population of about one million, and an infant mortality rate of 90 per 1,000 live births. More than 80 per cent deliveries in the district are done at home by dais and almost 90 per cent of households followed the traditional practices of applying surma and other substances on the umbilical cord.

The study was funded by Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns (Paiman), and John Snow Inc. via a grant by the US Agency for International Development (Usaid).

A separate study in rural Bangladesh, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and funded by Usaid and Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives programme, which also appears in the current issue of The Lancet, found that cleaning the birth cord with chlorhexidine can reduce an infant’s risk of infection and death during the first weeks of life by as much as 20 per cent.

Interesting article, reducing infection is something key for successful collection to be viable for transplants..........MrCordBlood

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"The Diabetic Epidemic: Can Stem Cells be the Savior?'

“The Diabetic Epidemic: Can Stem Cells be the Savior?”

In response to recent reports released showing that umbilical cord blood stem cells have been successfully used to treat individuals with type 1 diabetes, I believe it is pertinent to shed some light on the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. Population. Undervaluing these findings could be detrimental to educating the population on the importance of storing umbilical cord blood stem cells at birth as referenced in the articles below.

To begin, let’s start with some facts and statistics on the diabetic population courtesy of the American Diabetes Association. Here are just a few statistics from their 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet:

  • Among U.S. residents aged 65 years and older, 10.9 million, or 26.9%, had diabetes in 2010.
  • In 2005–2008, based on fasting glucose or hemoglobin A1c levels, 35% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older had prediabetes (50% of adults aged 65 years or older). Applying this percentage to the entire U.S. population in 2010 yields an estimated 79 million American adults aged 20 years or older with prediabetes.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower- limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Total Prevalence of Diabetes

  • Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
  • Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
  • Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
  • Prediabetes: 79 million people
  • New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

The numbers clearly outline that diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases plaguing the American population today. More astonishing, is the approximate 79 million adults ages 20 years and older that are prediabetic in addition to the roughly 26 million diagnosed cases.2 That equates to roughly 35% of America's 313 million citizens fall into the diabetic category or are at risk. Let me repeat, 35% of our population.

Cost of Diabetes

  • $174 billion: Total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2007
  • $116 billion: Direct medical costs
  • $58 billion: Indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality)

After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.

Death among people with diabetes, United States, 2007

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death based on U.S. death certificates in 2007. This ranking is based on the 71,382 death certificates in 2007 in which diabetes was the underlying cause of death. Diabetes was a contributing cause of death in an additional 160,022 death certificates for a total of 231,404 certificates in 2007 in which diabetes appeared as any-listed cause of death.

Diabetes is likely to be underreported as a cause of death. Studies have found that about 35% to 40% of decedents with diabetes had it listed anywhere on the death certificate and about 10% to 15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death.

Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age but without diabetes. 1

So what does all this mean?

With diabetes affecting nearly 9% of our population (and rising) and diabetes being the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, I believe the "importance of storing umbilical cord blood stem cells" has become an imperative decision to be weighed by not only families but our nation as a whole. $1 out of every 10 healthcare dollars is attributed to diabetes. Every American citizen, regardless of their diabetic status, is a $700 dollar annual burden. These numbers pale in comparison to the costs of storing umbilical cord blood stem cells for your child. This represents just ONE of the hundreds of research breakthroughs being made using cord blood stem cells to combat disease. So why is storing cord blood stem cells important in regards to the diabetes epidemic? With medical breakthroughs using adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood, storing these for your child provides a 100% match for use in the future, should the need arise. The use of cord blood stem cells in medicine is clearly growing. Based on the numbers presented by the American Diabetes Association fact sheet, if the annual burden is $700 dollars, this equates to $12,600 dollars over an 18 year span where privately storing your baby’s cord blood stem cells over 18 years equates to approximately $4,325 dollars, nearly a 1/3 of the cost. Being proactive could prove to be your best defense in securing your child's future medical well-being. “Saving Baby's Cord Blood Saves Lives” and this phrase has never rang more true.

Become educated. Become Aware. Make the decision to give today and tomorrow's generations the tools needed to ensure they are prepared by banking their umbilical cord blood privately or donating to a public bank for use in a national registry or research. Together we can make a difference and bring a brighter tomorrow to all!!!


2American Diabetes Association

Andy Brown

The Cord Group

U.S. Begins Stem Cell Trial for Hearing Loss

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A research specialist removes a batch of stem cells from a freezer in a file photo.

A research specialist removes a batch of stem cells from a freezer in a file photo.

Photograph by: Darren Hauck, Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- U.S. researchers have begun a groundbreaking trial to test the potential of umbilical cord blood transplants, a kind of stem cell therapy, to treat and possibly reverse hearing loss in infants.

The phase I trial follows promising studies on mice showing that such transplants were able to rebuild the structures of the inner ear, and some anecdotal evidence from humans, sparking hope of a cure for some forms of deafness.

One of those people is two-year-old Finn McGrath, who suffered brain damage after being deprived of oxygen during a prolonged and complicated delivery, according to his mother, Laura.

"His doctors told us he was at high risk for cerebral palsy, vision issues, hearing problems and mental retardation," she said in an interview with AFP.

Finn’s early days were an all-out struggle to survive, so for his parents, learning that he had failed his hearing tests and had damaged hair cells — the sensory receptors in the inner ear that pick up sounds — was almost an afterthought.

He had organ failure, breathing problems, and his cerebral palsy left him unable to roll, crawl or walk, hold his head up, talk or eat.

As his parents searched for ways to help him, they came upon stories online that told of studies using cord blood to help children with cerebral palsy and other disorders.

Prior to his birth, the McGraths had arranged to privately bank his umbilical cord blood, a procedure that costs around $2,000 plus storage fees, and remains controversial among pediatricians.

Private companies such as the Cord Blood Registry, which is funding the Texas study on hearing loss, urge expecting parents to bank their umbilical cord blood and reserve it for personal use as a way to protect their family.

That advice runs counter to the guidelines issues by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2007, which calls such claims "unsubstantiated" and says banking for personal or family use "should be discouraged" but is "encouraged" if it is to be stored in a bank for public use.

Since Finn’s parents had already banked his, they enrolled him in cord blood trial for cerebral palsy in North Carolina and he received his first transplant in November 2009 when he was about seven weeks old.

A second transfusion followed and by May, his parents began to notice a change.

Nighttime noises, like an alarm on his food pump or the sound of ripping medical tape, would suddenly startle him awake, his mother recalled.

"He started vocalizing sounds and we could tell that he was anticipating things that we would say. Like, if he had heard a story a number of times or a song, he would smile like he recognized the song or the story."

Finn had a third infusion in September 2010, when he was one year old. Four months later, an otoacoustic emissions test (OAE), which plays a sound and picks up vibrations in the cochlea and hair cells, came back normal.

The early hearing tests that showed hearing loss were not exactly the same as the later tests that came back normal, so McGrath is cautious about comparing them directly, but she believes the cord blood transfusions may have helped.

"All I can tell you is anecdotally he was not able to hear for probably the first three or four months of his life, and then when he was about six to eight months old, he started hearing."

The hearing trial in Texas aims to take a first step in testing the safety, and later the efficacy, of transfusing cord blood in children age six weeks to 18 months who have sustained post-birth sensorineural hearing loss.

Some reasons that children lose their hearing at or after birth may include oxygen deprivation, head injury, infection, strong doses of antibiotics or loud noises.

Sensorineural hearing loss affects approximately six per 1,000 children, and there is no available medical treatment. Hearing aids or cochlear implants are typically offered to boost the ability of the damaged tissues.

"Stem cell therapy may potentially repair the damaged structures of the inner ear and restore normal hearing," lead investigator Samer Fakhri told AFP.

"We are at the initial stages of this process and the results are looking promising," Fakhri added.

Research using stem cells in cord blood, known as hematopoietic cells, is already under way on some types of brain injury, cerebral palsy, juvenile diabetes, kidney and lung disease, he said.

The new study at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center is being funded by the Cord Blood Registry, and those eligible must have already banked their own umbilical cord blood with CBR.

But to Stephen Epstein, an otolaryngologist in Maryland, that does not pose a conflict of interest, because separate medical institutions in Texas and Georgia are conducting the Food and Drug Administration-approved research.

"If both of them can reproduce the same results then I would say it has some validity to it," said Epstein, who is not involved in the study.

"This is certainly a welcome, acceptable experiment, but it should be looked at with caution and time will tell."

One patient is already enrolled and the study, which runs for one year, has room for nine more.

While Finn McGrath still faces many challenges due to his cerebral palsy, his mother is grateful for the things he can do.

"I don’t know how much worse off he would have been without the stem cell transfusion," McGrath said, pointing to his normal cognition, lack of seizures, good hearing and vision.

"We remain hopeful that he will continue to improve."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SPECIAL REPORT: Stem Cell Solution

Ask any prospective parent about having a baby and they'll tell you all they want is a healthy baby. When that doesn't happen, parents and their little one often face a lifetime of challenges. Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg oversees the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Duke University Medical Center. She aims to help these families. She's a pioneer in cord blood stem cell therapies and currently leads a three year cord blood study to see if children with cerebral palsy can be helped.

"We tested cord blood in children with cancer and genetic diseases and serendipitously learned that it also can go to the brain and correct problems in the brain. So then we had the idea that maybe cord blood from the child themselves could repair damage in the brain if the damaged occurred early in life. And so we treated about 180 children to check and see if cord blood was safe to give to them and they did very well. And many of the children improved but we couldn't really know if it was because of the cord blood itself,” says Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg.

The result of past stem cell therapy successes under Dr. Kurtzberg’s leadership has led to today's current three year blood cord study on children with cerebral palsy. “So about a year ago we started a study to randomly select children to either receive their own cord blood or a placebo and then to test them with development tests, and motor test, and special MRI's to see how much they changed from baseline to a year later. We're testing a new treatment using the child's own cord blood which was stored when they were born to see if it helps lessen symptoms of cerebral palsy and other kinds of brain injuries that can occur in young children."

Brooke Isbert's daughter is a participant in the study. Born prematurely, her family knew she faced the possibility of future medical problems. “We decided from reading all the research the amazing research that's being done with stem cells how it's been able to somewhat heal things in some children or help lessen symptoms and some other disease we decided to, my husband and I decide to store her cord blood when she was born, " says Brooke Isbert.

Doctors soon discovered Brooke’s daughter had cerebral palsy.

The Isbert's travel from Delaware to Duke once a year for treatment.

“Since it's a blind study we're here once a year for three years so either the first year she received her stem cells or a placebo, we don't know and the second year of course it will be either or so we know eventually by the end of her study, she received her stem cells."

Brooke knows her daugther's neurological damage can't be reversed. She's also aware the therapy may not work and that there are no guarantees. "What my hope is from being part of the study and her receiving her stem cells is that it will lessen her cerebral palsy symptoms. Just maybe a better outlook with her physical abilities as she gets older."

She hopes the treatment improves her daughter's quality of life, but she's also realistic. Dr. Kurtzberg is also realistic, but she continues to celebrate past successes while holding out hope for future ones. “It’s great to see children grow up. I'm old enough now to see children I treated as babies become young adults, but I think we're still challenged by diseases we can't help yet but we wanna make progress on."

Great video, so many advances are being made in such little time................MrCordBlood

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Donated Umbilical Cord Blood Saves Local Teen Adam Getliff

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Sarah Getliff never imagined another mother’s umbilical cord would save her 15-year-old son’s life.

But that’s exactly what happened when Adam Getliff was diagnosed with leukemia last summer — and no matching bone marrow donor could be found.

Doctors infused blood from an anonymously-donated umbilical cord into Adam’s body. A month later, his white blood cell count had risen significantly and doctors considered the procedure a success.

“The cord blood transplant was the only way Adam would have lived,” said Getliff. “We’re so grateful to the mother who donated, whoever she is.”

The Getliffs hope Adam’s story will inspire others to save a life — by donating blood or registering to become a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood donor at the “Be a Perfect Match” drive Saturday.

Bone marrow test kits will be available for a reduced cost of $25 at the drive.

The drive was organized by Mary Kapala, who knows the Getliff family through church.

Kapala said she was moved by Adam’s strength and determination.

“Adam has been such an inspiration to those around him,” she said. “He has remained positive through his whole experience.”

When no one in Getliff’s family turned out to be a bone marrow match, they searched the National Bone Marrow Registry,

Even after an international search, they still had no luck finding a match.

Adam finally received the transplant he needed on Dec. 1, after finding a match on a cord blood registry.

“The amazing thing about cord blood is there are so many ways it can be used,” Sarah Getliff said. “But donating the umbilical cord is something you have to remember to opt in to do before your delivery. It’s really quite sad that it’s not something just routinely done.”

The Getliffs do not know their donor’s identity.

“We know she had a little girl, but other than that, we don’t know when or where (she gave birth),” Sarah Getliff said.

Although they are thankful for the life-saving donation, Adam continues to struggle with his health.

Earlier this week, he was admitted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for a bacterial infection in his lungs. His compromised immune system makes getting sick very dangerous, his mother said.

The family — which also includes Adam’s father and three older siblings — hopes the worst is behind them.

“If you have faith, you’re lifted up,” Sarah Getliff said. “You’re carried through it.”

How many more stories like Adam's would we see if more people stored or donated their babies cord blood? I think it would be FAR GREATER as our medical community continues to pave new ground with research, therapies, and treatments using umbilical cord blood stem cells. I strongly urge that every expecting mother to become aware and educated on why this service can be a life-changing decision for their family.................MrCordBlood