Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Possible Cerebral Palsy Cure & Draper's Out of My Mind

From Sunday's (Melbourne) Herald Sun article "Cerebral palsy breakthrough gives new hope:"
Melbourne researchers have been able to stop and even reverse severe brain damage in baby lambs as they try to combat cerebral palsy, which affects more than two in every 1000 births...  Dr Suzanne Miller said cells in cord blood appeared able to stop swelling in babies' brains after a problem birth, and then reverse much of the damage. "After 48 hours, we can show significant improvements, and we would expect that over time, these improvements would progress even further," she said. "Our theory would be to take cord blood and then give them the cells that we know will reverse or prevent the progression of parts of the injury as it is going to occur. "Some cell types might have a repair property, whereas others will prevent progression of injury in the very early hours after birth." The research will attempt to pinpoint cells in cord blood that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can prevent some of the damage occurring, as well as those that have repair properties. The team will also continue animal trials to determine the best time to administer the different cells in order to help fragile newborns the most. Seven of eight sheep with severe brain damage treated in the most recent trial had significantly increased brain activity after receiving cord blood 12 hours after their birth... The only current treatment for oxygen-starved newborns is cooling them straight after birth. But the technique may only be effective in preventing one in nine cases of cerebral palsy.

If you'd like a book about cerebral palsy, try Sharon Draper's young adult novel Out of My Mind:
Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

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