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Hope For Young British Children Living With Neurological Conditions

This month (March 2018), sees the first two British children suffering from cerebral palsy and autism travelling to America to receive stem cell therapy following the recent approval by the Food & Drug Authority (FDA) to extend treatment to additional conditions.

After positive preliminary trials, including 75% of children living with autism showing an improvement in their condition1, the FDA in October approved the extended use of treatment to Dukes University Medical Centre in North Carolina for those living with neurological conditions (including cerebral palsy and autism). Stem cells, collected via cord blood and safely stored with the UK’s leading cord blood bank, Cells4Life, are aiming to reverse and reduce the symptoms of both conditions.

Cord blood is the richest available source of billions of powerful stem cells, which can repair and regenerate tissue and save lives.  Cord blood banking is the process of collecting this blood from the umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for use in future stem cell therapies.

Seven-year-old Jay Shetty from Wimbledon, South West London, who suffers from a debilitating form of cerebral palsy which means he cannot walk, talk, or even sit up unaided, has been selected for the pioneering clinical trial at Dukes.

Hi parents, Shilpa and Raj Shetty had just one wish when they stored their second baby’s stem cells – changing the quality of life for Jay. The unique properties of stem cells found in the umbilical cord mean for sibling therapy only a partial match is required – in fact there is a strong 50% chance all siblings will provide a partial match and a further 25% chance that all siblings will provide a perfect match.

Overall, cerebral palsy affects 1 in 400 children2 and over 600,000 people in the UK are living with autism3. Currently there is no cure for cerebral palsy and treatments are aimed at lessening the symptoms – the cost to the NHS alone is £4 million per year for 110,000 sufferers4.

The trial, which has already demonstrated some transformational results, will use a transfusion of Jay’s brother’s cord blood stem cells to repair the damage to his brain and improve his quality of life. His mother hopes that the treatment may one day enable him to walk, run, and maybe even hug her for the very first time.

Claudia Rees, Operations Director at Cells4Life, comments; “This is cutting-edge treatment, considered to be a cornerstone of a relatively new area of science known as regenerative medicine. Stem cells and cord blood have already been used to cure diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma and testicular cancer, in the near future it is likely that these treatments will provide hope for common and often life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The results of this trial will be very exciting and such work would not have been possible without the parents who chose to bank their children’s precious cord blood at birth and support innovative treatments.”

Shilpa Shetty, Jay’s mother, comments; “We are extremely excited to be part of this revolutionary treatment offered by Dukes, having seen the positive preliminary results it has shown amongst cerebral palsy sufferers.  Any respite and improvement to Jay’s quality of life would have an enormously beneficial effect on not just him but our whole family life.”

Cells4Life take care of everything from arranging the phlebotomist after birth, to the processing, testing and long-term storage of the cells. The process of collecting umbilical cord blood stem cells is completely risk free, non-invasive and painless and patients will not even need to change their birth plan. The UK is now one of the leading countries in stem cell research and development and Cells4Life want to remain at the clinical forefront of this in order to benefit the lives of their patients and families.

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