By Hilary White

LONDON, November 10, 2010 ( – The condition of a 3-year–old child with cerebral palsy in the UK has been significantly improved after treatment with stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, stored when he was born, the Daily Mail reported Monday. Sasha Browne is thought to be the first British child to be injected with cord blood cells and her parents are reporting that her condition has significantly improved.

Tania and Richard Browne told media that the treatment their daughter received at an unregulated clinic in France has improved her motor control, her ability to speak and her vision.

Mrs. Browne said, “Her walking is streets ahead of what it was before; look at her hand – last time I saw her hand it was really closed and now it is moving more.”

“We feel there has been some general improvement in her motor skills and perhaps some improvement in her vision and cognitive ability.

“We can’t categorically say this is attributable to the stem cell infusion. However, we and Sasha's therapist feel the improvement has potentially been at a faster rate than it may have occurred, or in comparison with other children with similar abilities.”

In the last ten years, leading stem cell scientists have lauded the value of blood taken from the umbilical cord as one of the richest sources of stem cells in the human body. While funding continues to pour in to research using cells derived from human embryos, cord blood research is slowly gaining acceptance as an ethical alternative that is saving lives and curing illnesses.

Professor Colin McGuckin, president and director of the Cell Therapy Research Institute in Lyon, France, recently told Modern Medicare magazine, “Around 20 years ago, only a handful of diseases were being treated with umbilical cord blood stem cells. With the advancement in this field in recent times now over 80 diseases can be treated or supported with stem cells. The advances that have been made are staggering.”

In related news, new research has shown a link between the use of IVF for conception and increased risk of cerebral palsy in the child. Researchers at the University of Aarhus in Denmark found that babies born by IVF were more than twice as likely to have cerebral palsy as those conceived naturally.

The journal Human Reproduction reported that the risk was still elevated when the figures were adjusted to account for other factors such as the mother’s smoking, or her age.


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