A team of researchers at Georgia's health science university, the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), announced last week that they are conducting a clinical trial using stem cells from umbilical-cord blood as a treatment for cerebral palsy. The trial will build on a successful series of past tests using adult stem cells in regenerative medicine.
"Evidence up to this point has been purely anecdotal," said James Carroll, chief of pediatric neurology at the MCG and principal investigator on the study. "While a variety of cord blood stem-cell therapies have been used successfully for more than 20 years, this study is breaking new ground in advancing therapies for brain injury."
MCG's is the first clinical trial using adult stem cells approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and comes on the heels of last month's announcement of the first FDA-approved trial of embryonic stem-cell treatment. FDA approval generally means enough funding and prior research has accumulated to make a heavily regulated FDA review worthwhile.
While there's not exactly a competition, scientifically speaking, between the two different approaches, the fact that the government now supports embryonic stem-cell research underscores the importance of ramping up research into other methods (like cord blood stem cells).
The study's success means children ages 2 to 12 taking part in the trial will show improvement in neurological development and motor skills after three months. Due to previous, non-clinical trials, researchers expect that the results will provide evidence that treatment with cord blood stem cells can improve quality of life. "For the purposes of this study, we're not looking at stem cells as a possible cure, [but] rather whether stem cells ...1
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