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Newborn Possibilities Fund Awards Grant to Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation to Support Groundbreaking Pediatric Res

Posted Mar 30 2011 12:00am

/PRNewswire/ -- The Newborn Possibilities Fund, a grantmaking program established by Cord Blood Registry (CBR), today announced it will provide its first-ever grant to the Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation. The university's medical center is conducting the first FDA-regulated clinical trial evaluating cord blood stem cells as a medical intervention for cerebral palsy. The grant will provide financial support to help curb travel and other expenses for families with a child participating in the trial.

The study will include 40 children, ages 1 to 12 and will begin with a neurological exam. Then, half of the study participants will receive an infusion of their own cord blood while the other half receives a placebo. Three months later, the children will be evaluated without physicians knowing which group received the stem cell infusion. Afterward, children who didn't get their cord blood initially will receive an infusion. Children in the study will return three and six months later for evaluation, where researchers will assess their motor skills and neurological development.

"This is a very well-designed clinical study that will provide new insights into the potential of cord blood stem cells to help children recover from nerve tissue damage to the brain," said Heather Brown, vice president of scientific and medical affairs at CBR. "However, the study design requires a family to make trips at their own expense to the study center. The goal of The Newborn Possibilities Fund is to remove financial barriers that may prevent eligible children from participating in this cutting-edge research and receiving investigational treatments that may improve their quality of life."

The Newborn Possibilities Fund (NPF) was created to help advance clinical research investigating the use of a child's own cord blood stem cells as a treatment for conditions like cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury. The NPF directs financial grants to non-profit organizations to help cover the cost of travel for families who have the chance to participate in FDA-regulated trials. The Fund is administered by Tides, a public charity, on behalf of CBR.

Patients who meet the inclusion criteria and are enrolled in the trial at Georgia Health Sciences University will be notified of the Newborn Possibilities Fund and have the opportunity to receive funds to use toward the cost of travel to Augusta, Georgia for the cord blood infusion procedure and required follow up visits.

"The hope for stem cells, really from the beginning, is that they might serve as some type of replacement for cells in the nervous system that have been destroyed or never developed properly," said Dr. James Carroll, professor and chief of pediatric neurology at Georgia Health Sciences University and principal investigator on the study. "The main goal of our research is to try to help improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy and find out if the method we're using is going to help these children in the future."

A growing body of research in animals has shown that infused stem cells help to initiate repair and induce healing in the brain. While the Georgia Health Sciences University is the first controlled clinical trial to be conducted, anecdotal reports from previous studies have shown marked improvement in children with cerebral palsy about three months after an initial infusion of cord blood, which led Dr. Carroll to design his trial.

Through generous donations, the Newborn Possibilities Fund hopes to provide financial support for additional trials already underway at leading research universities across the country. For more information on the program or to donate, please visit www.newbornpossibilities.com/donate.asp

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