Researchers recently announced the preliminary results of a new drug designed to treat one type of cerebral palsy. The early stages of their study showed improvement in symptoms in test animals that received the drug. While everyone associated with the study emphasized that the drug is still in the earliest stages of development, the treatment offers a glimmer of hope for Houston parents whose son or daughter has cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is not a condition or disease as much as it is a group of disorders. Children with CP have trouble moving around; maintaining balance and posture is difficult for them. The brain damage that causes CP can occur prenatally, during or shortly after birth, or during the child's first three years. For the one in 300 children with CP in the U.S., the symptoms are treated or managed; there is no cure.
The scientists say the study offers hope for a couple of reasons. Chief among them, perhaps, is that there is apparently a "window of opportunity for treatment," regardless of when the brain damage occurs.
The test drug was designed to treat CP caused by a bacterial infection inside the womb. The infection causes inflammation in the brain, and prolonged or severe inflammation can kill brain cells. That damage is the underlying cause of CP. And, though the damage occurs before birth, the CP may go undiagnosed until age 2 or 3, when the child starts to walk.
The researchers, then, focused their treatment on the period the damage occurs: that is, before birth, when the bacterial infection hits.
We'll continue this in our next post.
Source: FoxNews.com, "Cerebral palsy drug may offer hope for treatment," Rachael Rettner, April 19, 2012