Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries in Children Using Adult Stem Cells

By David Prentice

Editor’s note. This appears on Dr. Prentice’s superb blog at

Use of adult stem cells to treat traumatic brain injury in children appears safe and effective. Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have published preliminary results of a Phase I clinical trial showing the safety of bone marrow adult stem cells in treating traumatic brain injury in children. A total of ten children between the age of 5 and 14 years old were treated within 48 hours of their injury with their own adult stem cells; the cells were collected from their bone marrow, processed and returned to them intravenously. Using the patient’s own adult stem cells avoids potential complications of cell rejection, graft versus host disease, and blood-borne disease transfer.

Over 2.5 million Americans live with the devastating consequences of traumatic brain injury, and children who survive such an injury often have serious long-term problems. Six months after their adult stem cell treatment, all of the children showed significant improvement and seven of the 10 children had a “good outcome,” meaning no or only mild disability.

The medical team is also testing use of cord blood stem cells for treatment of traumatic brain injury.

According to Dr. Charles S. Cox, Jr., lead author:

“Our data demonstrate that the acute harvest of bone marrow and infusion of bone marrow mononuclear cells to acutely treat severe TBI in children is safe.”

The results are published in the journal Neurosurgery [].