Researchers at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center have made
a breakthrough in finding a possible treatment for
cerebral palsy in newborn babies. In a
study utilizing rabbits that have the movement disorder, the scientists found
that nanotechnology can be used to deliver effective medicine to the rabbits’
brains. Nanotechnology involves very small supramolecules that are about
the size of atoms. The Detroit researchers developed nano-devices that
can carry medicine to the specific part of the brain involved in cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy is a catch-all expression for a series of disorders that
adversely affect a child’s nervous system and movement ability.
It affects as many as four out of every 1,000 babies born worldwide. These
disorders are often caused by brain injuries that occur in babies while
in utero or during birth. Since inflammation of the brain often leads
to infections that cause cerebral palsy, any treatment that can quickly
reduce brain inflammation may ultimately prevent these serious movement
Nanotechnology Shows Potential for Cutting-edge Treatment
Scientists hope that the process that worked in rabbits will also be effective
in newborns and perhaps even in babies that are still in the womb. The
Detroit researchers are collaborating with a team from the National Institute
of Health (NIH) to develop nanotechnology that may one day significantly
decrease or even eliminate the occurrence of cerebral palsy. The rabbit
study is reportedly the first to show that molecules called dendrimers
can target the specific part of the brain where inflammation occurs. This
nanotechnology approach is ten to one hundred times more effective than
IV drugs in treating inflammation.
In the past, doctors have had a very difficult time targeting treatment
to the parts of the brain and central nervous system affected by cerebral
palsy. The nano-devices may offer a solution to this problem, since they
can deliver drugs to specific targets. Scientists are now able to use
PET (positron emission tomography) scans to detect brain inflammation
in animals almost as soon as it begins. They are currently studying the
use of PET scans to find inflammation in the brains of at-risk newborns.
Both nanotechnology and animal research are controversial topics, criticized
for ethical reasons and also for questions about their effectiveness.
However, from the perspective of parents with children who are at risk
to develop cerebral palsy, these advances in nanotechnology may be a clear
sign of progress. The best way to prevent cerebral palsy is still to avoid
injuring babies in utero or
during birth. But sometimes it is too late for that, and science may give us some clues
as to the next best thing.
What to Do if Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and you believe that
this condition may be the result of a birth injury, you should contact
a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts
of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they
can help you seek the compensation you deserve.