Cord blood clinical trials for cerebral palsy have received a lot of press over recent years, especially as patient stories have reported such dramatic improvements.

These clinical trials have typically focused on autologous cord blood infusions – infusing a child’s own cord blood stem cells. Now, in the first study of its kind, a clinical trial at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne is investigating the application of sibling cord blood stem cells in the treatment of cerebral palsy.

The Murdoch Children’s Research institute has started enrolling children aged between 1 and 10 with cerebral palsy in the study. The children taking part in the study must have a sibling whose cord blood has been stored in a private bank under Australian government-regulated conditions.

Professor Iona Novak of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute stressed the importance of the study. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Novak said “Unfortunately we hear of many Australian children with (cerebral palsy) and their families travelling overseas to receive unregulated stem cell treatments at great cost. This study, using cord blood which has been stored under Australian government-regulated conditions, is an important first step towards potentially improving treatment.”

The children enrolled in the study will receive infusions of their sibling’s cord blood, which is rich in stem cells. The researchers will study the children over a two year period to determine any changes in the motor skills of the children taking part.

Carly Stewart, a mother from Melbourne, whose son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth, said she was pleased that she decided to store the cord blood of her son’s siblings. “We are excited about this Australian trial commencing and the promising future of this much-talked about treatment,” Stewart said to the Sydney Morning Herald. “I encourage other families to store their children’s cord blood.”



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