Wonderful news from Spain as stem cells are used to improve symptoms of cerebral palsy
One of the greatest breakthroughs in regenerative medicine in the past few years has been the successful use of cord blood stem cells to improve the symptoms of children with cerebral palsy. This month we were thrilled to hear about Nerea, a little girl from Spain who’s life has been transformed by her parents’ decision to store her cord blood.
This story first appeared on the Parents’ Guide to Cord Blood website in March 2019.
Nerea is an eight-year-old girl who lives in the Spanish town of Burriana in the province Castellón. Born prematurely, Nerea suffered respiratory difficulties which reduced the flow of oxygen to her brain, causing cerebral palsy. As Nerea has grown, her motor difficulties have required continuous care by her family and physiotherapists.
In Spain, cord blood banking is more common than in the UK and fortunately, Nerea’s parents had successfully stored their daughter’s stem cells after her birth. When Nerea was 5 years old, her parents received information about the autologous use (self-transplant) of umbilical cord blood stem cells to treat children with cerebral palsy.
Victoria, Nerea’s mother, contacted IVIDA (a prominent cord blood bank in Spain) in February 2016. From there on, IVIDA worked with Nerea and her family to try to use Nerea’s cord blood unit, with the aim of helping her to improve the symptoms of her cerebral palsy.
Nerea was treated by Dr Joanne Kurtzberg’s team at Duke University. Dr Kurtzberg is an internationally recognised leader in cord blood therapy and has conducted a randomised clinical trial using autologous umbilical cord blood for the treatment of cerebral palsy.
IVIDA contacted Dr Kurtzberg’s team, and after several weeks of communication and a lot of work, finally, Nerea received an infusion of her own cord blood stem cells at Duke University Medical Center in the United States. This was in July 2017. One year and four months later, IVIDA contacted Victoria to follow up on Nerea’s progress.
When we started the activity of IVIDA Banco de Cordón in 2009, we did not visualize that we could help a girl with cerebral palsy to improve her quality of life. For IVIDA, this process has been very enriching and satisfying, and it encourages us even more to continue working in this field of umbilical cord blood stem cells.
How is Nerea after her treatment?
In this video, Nerea’s mother Victoria explains how Nerea suffered breathing difficulties and was deprived of oxygen around the time of her birth and describes the challenges cerebral palsy brought to Nerea’s quality of life.
As you can see, Nerea’s balance, strength and motor control have improved so much that she is now able to dress, tie her shoes, draw, write and play and is increasingly enjoying a rounded life and catching up with her peers.
Read Luke’s story here.
BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.