Public forum to demystify stem cell treatment for cerebral palsy and urge caution about overseas ‘stem cell tourism’
Families advised to be patient and wait for Australian clinical cord blood trials
An expert panel of clinicians and scientists will tonight urge families to exercise caution if considering embarking on unproven stem cell treatments overseas for their children with cerebral palsy – the most common physical disability in childhood.
More than 250 people are expected to attend tonight’s forum – Stem Cells & Cerebral Palsy: The Promise & The Progress – which will detail investigations into the possibility of later this year beginning Australia’s first clinical cord blood trials in search of a breakthrough treatment for cerebral palsy.
The forum is being jointly hosted by Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Stem Cells Australia and NSW Stem Cell Network. It will also be live streamed to cater for expected interest from thousands of families living with cerebral palsy throughout Australia and overseas.
Associate Professor Iona Novak, Head of Research with Cerebral Palsy Alliance and 2013 Fulbright Scholarship recipient for her work into stem cell research, says it is vital that Australian families are updated on what’s fact and what’s fiction in stem cell science developments.
‘Parents are urged to be cautious if considering embarking on costly and clinically unproven stem cell treatments overseas for their children with cerebral palsy’, Assoc Prof Novak said.
‘The health and wellbeing of the person with cerebral palsy are paramount, which is why we urge families to be patient whilst we undertake exciting investigations into holding evidence-based clinical stem cell trials here in Australia.
‘Results coming from a recent South Korean study certainly offer the first possibility of using cord blood and erythropoietin for treatment of cerebral palsy and we are keen to integrate these findings into our plans to later this year begin two Australian clinical stem cell trials.’
The recent clinical trial in South Korea (Umbilical Cord Blood Therapy Potentiated with Erythropoietin for Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Dr Kyunghoon Min1) has raised the possibility that cord blood along with erythropoietin (which increases red blood cell numbers) could one day be used to treat and ultimately prevent cerebral palsy.
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Released on 21 May 2013