Novel Stem Cell Therapy Offers Hope for Patients with Neurological Disorders
Till very recently, it was believed that brain damage during birth is irreversible. However, now with emerging research; we understand that it is possible to repair the damaged brain tissue using cell therapy.
Hyderabad: Till very recently, it was believed that brain damage during birth is irreversible. However, now with emerging research; we understand that it is possible to repair the damaged brain tissue using cell therapy. Again, today there are still many people in India who have not preserved their stem cells through cord blood banks. For all those patients, who have lost their hope in finding a new treatment for neurological related disorders, adult stem cell therapy offers a new hope for such kind of patients.
The shock of finding out that one’s child is mentally retarded or has neurological problems is a life-changing experience for most parents. Raising such a child with neurological disorder is a constant challenge for parents and especially for mothers as it’s exhausting, exhilarating and a lonely roller coaster ride.
There are certain disorders, where despite the best available medical and rehabilitative treatments, till date, medical science has not been able to give the patients satisfactory relief in their medical and physical symptoms or help them to regain the abilities to integrate with society. Autism, cerebral palsy, Mental retardation & Muscular Dystrophy are such type of disorders. A look at the development of the advances in the medical sciences shows that the solutions to difficult untreatable disorders have always come from a multi-disciplinary approach. It is only when people from different specialties pool their knowledge, skills and resources, that breakthroughs happen in incurable or difficult to treat medical conditions.
Dr Alok Sharma, Director, NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute, Professor and Head of Neurosurgery, LTMG Hospital & LTM Medical College, Sion and also President of Stem Cell Society of India said “Stem cell therapy is emerging as one of the newer treatment options for conditions like Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental retardation, Muscular Dytrophy, Spinal Cord Injury, Paralysis, Brain Stroke, Cerebellar Ataxia and Other Neurological Disorders. This treatment has the potential to repair the damaged neural tissue at molecular, structural and functional level.”
Dr. Nandini Gokulchandran, Deputy Director, Neurogen Brain and Spine Institute said “Stem Cell Therapy (SCT) done at NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute is a very simple and safe procedure. Stem Cells are taken from patient’s own bone marrow with the help of one needle and are injected back in their Spinal Fluid after processing. Since they are taken from the patient’s own body there is no rejection, no side effects, hence making SCT a completely safe procedure.’’
Autism is a term that generates quite mixed emotions and reactions in parents when they first hear it to describe their child’s difficulties. Some go into denial, some are confused by what it means, some are angry at themselves, some blame each other and some even blame their child. Autism Spectrum Disorders were once thought to be uncommon with a reported prevalence of 4 per 10000 in the mid 1960s. In the early 1980s the International Autistic Society estimated 2 cases of autism per 5000 children. From the 1980s to 2000, this number has come down to an astonishing ratio of 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism.
Dr Alok Sharma said “Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a group of childhood developmental disorders that are characterized by problems in social interaction and communication followed by rigid and repetitive behavior. In children with autism, functioning of some areas of the brain is compromised. This leads to problems in understanding, thinking abilities, speech, interactions and communications, play, learn and in relating to others. Despite a normal physical appearance, the daily functioning of the child is affected. As parents or caretakers one may frantically look for all possible treatment options for their children. Autism management requires a multi-disciplinary treatment approach which includes administration of certain drugs to control a few behavior issues as well as planned therapy programs such as psychological intervention occupational therapy, special education, speech therapy and physiotherapy.”
Although these therapies help in managing the child up to some extent but they are unable to work on the underlying brain damage seen in children with autism. Researchers and doctors are now looking at regenerative therapy using stem cells as potential therapy for children showing symptoms of autism.
Similarly, Cerebral Palsy (CP) is another such common childhood neurological condition, which according to the WHO occurs in 2 out of every 1000 life births in India. It is caused due to hypoxic ischemic injury at the time of birth and causes severe and extensive damage to the brain. It leaves the children severely physical and mentally incapacitated. CP is not a single entity but rather an overarching term describing a group of permanent disorders that cause a range of life-long motor and posture-related impairments. Although a diagnosis of CP refers to problems with neural control of motor function, individuals may also have complications in behavior, learning, epilepsy, communication, vision, hearing, perception and sensation. The causes of CP are complex and not entirely understood. Many risk factors may be present and can be interrelated. Common risk factors include preterm birth, multiple births, shortage of oxygen (hypoxia) or blood supply (ischemia) and gestational infections/inflammation.
Dr Nandini Gokulchandran added “The treatment options that are currently available help the patients in managing the symptoms to some extent, but they do not repair the underlying brain damage. Therefore developing a standard therapeutic approach is the need of the hour. Scientists and researchers worldwide are now considering stem cell therapy as a potential treatment option for patients suffering from cerebral palsy.”
About a year back, NeuroGen’s chapter on “Stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy – A Novel Option” was published in the leading InTech Open International Book “Cerebral Palsy Challenges For the Future”. InTech Open is a leading global publisher of Journals and Books within the fields of Science, Technology and Medicine. This book covered individual chapters on all aspects of cerebral palsy from leading authors from across the world. There is only one Indian Institution NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute whose chapter found its place in this entire International book.
There is yet another disease called Muscular Dystrophy that occurs worldwide, affecting all races. Its incidence varies, as some forms are more common than others. It’s the most common form of disease amongst children. Duchenne muscular dystrophy, affects approximately 1 in every 3,500 to 6,000 male births each year according to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA. In India also, a rising number of cases of muscular dystrophy have been reported having an occurrence of 1 in 3,500 male births each year. Some types of Muscular Dystrophy are more prevalent in certain countries and regions of the world. Many muscular dystrophies are familial, meaning there is some family history of the disease.Muscular dystrophy is a progressive condition, which is severely debilitating and affects the individuals’ life span and quality of life. In fact, Duchene muscular dystrophy is the most severe form of incurable disease that cuts young lives short as short as 20-22 years only. The incurable disease causes a progressive degeneration process of the muscles, resulting in decreased mobility, breathing problems, heart failure and, ultimately, a premature death.
Dr Alok Sharma Professor & Head of Neurosurgery, LTMG Hospital & LTM Medical College, Sion Mumbai and Director NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute said “There is very little awareness about muscular dystrophies amongst our people. In smaller towns and villages, most people have no idea about the disease. Several people even confuse DMD with polio for a long time after the child starts showing the first symptoms. Many even end up trying herbal remedies, thinking they will cure the children”.
Dr Alok Sharma further said “Duchene Muscular Dystrophy is the most severe form, where the life span of these children is around 20-22 years. It is emotionally, physically and financially draining for the parents of these children. As there is no treatment modality to halt or control the progression of the disease, the family has to see their child whither away. Therefore, we need to broaden our outlook and explore newer treatment strategies, which can at least control the progression of this disease. Stem cell therapy has emerged as a treatment option in the recent years, which has shown its positive impact on the progressive nature of this disease.”
Dr Alok Sharma further said “Stem cell therapy is a productive and safe tool in the management of patients with muscular dystrophy as well. It has shown functional as well as radiological improvements in these patients, which enhances their quality of life.”
So finally Dr Alok Sharma concluded by saying “For all those millions of patients who had told by us earlier that nothing can be done medically for your illness, we can now say to you with reasonable confidence that with the availability of stem cell therapy combined with NeuroRehabilitation, Achhe Din Aane Wale Hain!
Based out of Nerul, Navi Mumbai, NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute, India’s first and only institute that offers not only just Stem Cell Therapy but also Rehabilitation as well. This 11-storeyed building is a super specialty hospital with more than 51 beds capacity and special neurorehabilitation therapy centre. NeuroGen BSI has been set up to help patients suffering from incurable neurological disorders, get relief from their symptoms and physical disabilities by the use of stem cell therapy in a safe and effective way. NeuroGen BSI offers stem cell therapy and holistic rehabilitation for Neurological Disorders like Autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, brain stroke, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, head injury, cerebellar ataxia, dementia, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis and neuropsychiatric disorders. Till date, the organization has already successfully treated 3000 patients from over 38 countries.