Stem-cell treatment trials give family hope

By Clare Speak

For the Post

Five-year-old Nelly Vadoviov is the first Slovak child to undergo an experimental stem-cell treatment, using stem cells from the umbilical cord blood taken at her birth.

The pioneering treatment is for cerebral palsy and is being conducted during clinical trials at Duke University Hospital in the United States.

Nelly was picked to take part in the trial by the Cord Blood Center (CBC) Group, which coordinates and enables the participation of patients in clinical trials of the treatment as part of a project called Pomocnruka, or Helping Hand.

CBC has centers in six countries including Slovakia and the Czech Republic and works within many Czech maternity hospitals, offering collection and preservation of umbilical cord blood, which are rich in stem cells.

The cells are stored in private banks for future use by the child or relatives. There are high hopes among experts of stem-cell treatment of providing a cure for Cerebral Palsy, among other disorders.

According to CBC, most clinical trials for stem-cell treatment take place outside of Europe, which is why they began their cooperation with the U.S. hospital. So far, some 200 children worldwide have undergone the experimental treatment, most of them from the United States. There have been only a handful of patients from Europe.

"The main purpose of our project is to ensure that umbilical blood will not only be conserved but actively used in healing procedures," said Dr. Miroslav Kube, representing CBC. "Our vision is to secure the widest possible use of stem cells from umbilical blood in accordance with new emerging trends in global medicine care."

More than 150 children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years are involved in the program, and each will receive two injections over two years, one containing cord blood and the other a placebo solution. Nelly had her first injection in May this year, and neither her parents nor her doctors know whether she received the placebo or stem cells this time.

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Stem-cell treatment trials give family hope

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