Cerebral palsy that was the result of a stroke in utero stopped young Chloe Levine from developing like other children. However, after an experimental infusion of her own stem cells–taken from her umbilical cord and stored after birth–Chloe is running, playing sports and coloring at two and a half years old.
Chloe took part in a trial at Duke University and is one of 33 patients who was infused last year with their own stem cells that had been taken from their umbilical cords and stored in Tucson’s Cord Blood Registry (CBR). This is the largest private cord blood blank, and it stores over a quarter of a million units from around the world.
The number of transplants that have utilized CBR’s services tripled in 2008, as more transplants are conducted in trials in regenerative medicine. Scientists are currently studying whether an infusion of a person’s own cells collected at birth can repair damaged tissues.
How Much Does it Cost?
Parents currently spend around $2,000 up front and then $125 a year for maintenance. It is also worth noting that the use of stem cells is not particularly politically controversial as in the case of embryonic stem cells. However, the marketing strategies of businesses that store these cells are.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a place many parents turn to in regards to the health of their child, is privately banking cells in case an older sibling might need them. This is referred to commonly as “biological insurance”. This procedure is controversial and many believe that it is not effective.
Cord blood stem cells are used experimentally to treat brain injuries such as cerebral palsy, Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses. CBR officials also claim that the cells have the potential to cure more than 70 diseases.
While stem cell therapy using cord blood has shown mixed results in children with cerebral palsy, unfortunately even medical doctors cannot say whether or not your child will benefit from this new type of treatment.