Expert Charles Cox Pediatric patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) probably suffer from serious complications and disability. At present there are no treatments that may effectively protect or promote repair the brain in such brain-injured children. A Phase I clinical trial undertaken by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) suggests that stem cells derived from a patient’s own bone marrow can be a safe treatment for kids diagnosed with TBI.

The clinical trial was triggered on 10 children aged 5 to 14 years with severe TBI. Within 48 hours of their injury all the subjects were treated with their own stem cells. These stem cells supposedly accumulated from the children’s bone marrow, were processed and returned to them intravenously. It was then asserted that the acute harvest of bone marrow and infusion of bone marrow mononuclear cells to acutely treat severe TBI in children is safe.

The current investigation was designed to examine the feasibility and safety, but not the efficacy of stem cells in treating TBI. After six months of follow-up, all the participants reported significant improvement and 7 of the 10 children had no or only mild disability. Charles S. Cox, Jr., M.D., the study’s lead author and professor of pediatric neurosurgery at the UTHealth Medical School and colleagues are now testing the same bone marrow stem cell procedure in adults with acute stroke.

The study is published in this month’s issue of Neurosurgery.