Dr. Nguyen Thanh Liem is already recognised as one of the most famous surgeons in Vietnam, because of the many ground breaking procedures he has already developed.  His work has helped many thousands of children, not only in Vietnam, but around the world.  His latest research project is a stem cell therapy to treat children with cerebral palsy.

About four years ago, Dr. Liem was treating a two-year-old patient with cerebral palsy. It is a common condition that is caused by abnormal brain development. It carries a wide range of symptoms including difficulty moving, poor balance and motor control, muscle rigidity, learning disabilities and involuntary motions.

The child was in a poor way and had severe symptoms.  He could not breathe well and had frequent convulsions.  The only treatment options available at the time were physiotherapy and certain drugs.  These options could reduce the symptoms of the condition, but not cure it.

Dr. Liem thought that a more drastic option may be required, so he decided to use a stem cell therapy he had previously created to treat patients with liver cirrhosis.

The innovative stem cell therapy involved bone marrow stem cells being injected into the patient’s spinal cord cavity.  It was a painstaking procedure and great care had to be taken not to injure the patient.

Doctors hoped that the stem cells would move through the spinal cord and into the brain.  Once in the brain they would seek out the damaged sections and heal them.  Fortunately, the procedure went well.  The next step involved waiting and watching the stem cells do their work.

Three months after the transplant, the little boy returned to the hospital for a checkup.  Amazing, the patient had much more control over his limbs and was able to sit up.  Dr. Liem and his colleagues were delighted by how well the stem cell therapy worked.  The next step is to test the procedure on more patients and run additional clinical trials.

Source: Stem cells breathe new life into spastic kids