Feasibility of trialling cord blood stem cell treatments for cerebral palsy in Australia

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Abstract

Aim:

Umbilical cord blood may have therapeutic benefit in children with cerebral palsy (CP), but further studies are required. On first appearance it seems that Australia is well placed for such a trial because we have excellence in CP research backed by extensive CP registers, and both public and private cord blood banks. We aimed to examine the possibilities of conducting a trial of autologous umbilical cord blood cells (UCBCs) as a treatment for children with CP in Australia.

Methods:

Data linkages between CP registers and cord blood banks were used to estimate potential participant numbers for a trial of autologous UCBCs for children with CP.

Results:

As of early 2013, one Victorian child with CP had cord blood stored in the public bank, and between 1 and 3 children had their cord blood stored at Cell Care Australia (private cord blood bank). In New South Wales, we counted two children on the CP register who had their stored cord blood available in early 2013. We estimate that there are between 10 and 24 children with CP of any type who have autologous cord blood available across Australia.

Conclusions:

In nations with small populations like Australia, combined with Australia's relatively low per capita cord blood storage to date, it is not currently feasible to conduct trials of autologous UCBCs for children with CP. Other options must be explored, such as allogeneic UCBCs or prospective trials for neonates at risk of CP.

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