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 disorders.
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.