How stem cell therapy can repair brain injuries in newborns

How stem cell therapy can repair brain injuries in newborns

Suzanne and her husband Sebastian had made plans for a natural birth at home. But things didn’t go as planned. Their daughter Senna was born in an emergency delivery in hospital and she suffered a severe brain infarct and the doctors prepared them for the worst. “We were told we would have a physically disabled child”, tells Sebastian.    

Sebastian and Suzanne were given a choice; their daughter was eligible to be enrolled in an experimental treatment at the UMC Utrecht that uses stem cell therapy to repair the brain of a newborn baby after a brain infarction. The therapy is conducted at the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital, part of the UMC Utrecht. Neonatologist Manon Benders and Neuroscientist Cora Nijboer who led the pre-clinical research have been conducting research into this stem cell therapy for over ten years.

Treatment finally reaches patients
After all these years of research, dutiful ethical approvals and much patience, Benders and Nijboer now finally brought the treatment to patients. Ten newborns who have suffered a cerebral infarct have participated in the study so far. Senna, the daughter of Suzanne and Sebastian, is one of them.

Breakthrough in repairing brain damage
This new stem cell therapy which stimulates the brain’s own healing power might be a breakthrough in repairing brain damage in newborns, something for which there’s currently no other clinical solution available. The treatment consists of administrating stem cells - through the use of intranasal drops -  to the affected areas of the brain with the aim of regenerating damaged tissue. 

As befits a good scientist, Nijboer is cautiously optimistic: "It is still too early to say anything definite.” But the results, she admits, are promising for patients. “Because stem cell therapy has the potential to repair brain damage, rather than just limit it.”

>>> Read the full story of Senna and how stem cell therapy might be able to repair brain injuries in newborns on the website of the UU (University of Utrecht):

Photo - Ilco Kemmere Fotografie

Working at UMC Utrecht





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