Indian Boy To Recieve Mesenchymal Intracranial Stem Cell Transplant
There is a brave little boy in India who is going to make history this week. His name is Aaditya (ah-dah-tee-ah) and right now this little boy is at BGS Global Hospital in Bangalore, India, being prepped for one of the first intracranial stem cell transplants ever conducted on children. The procedure was approved by the Indian government a few weeks ago and is being conducted by some of the top neurosurgeons in India.
For those of you who unfamiliar with stem cells transplants (which wouldn’t be surprising as this kind of treatment is not even available in the United States), intracranially means that the stem cell Aaditya will receive will be put directly through his skull, into his brain and past the blood brain barrier. Most stem cells injections people get in China or Mexico go through the neck/vertebra or through IV infusions.
Aaditya is afflicted with a rare and fatal childhood disease called Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC). Frequently referred to as "Childhood Alzheimer’s," Niemann Pick Type C is a genetic lipid (cholesterol) storage disease that causes progressive neurodegeneration of the brain just like Alzheimers, Parkinson’s or ALS does to adults. Only 500 children worldwide have this horrible condition, including my identical twins daughters, Addi and Cassi. Without this procedure, Aaditya is likely to die as there is no approved treatment for NPC.
In 2005, a similar procedure made international headlines when the FDA approved six children with Batten disease to receive intracranial neural stem cells in the United States. The results from this procedure still has not been released by StemCells Inc. of Palo Alto, California. Why, I don’t know, but my guess is that these neural derived stem cells were not a huge success.
Unlike the children with Batten disease, Aaditya is going to receive a different type of stem cell – mesenchymal stem cells derived from human bone marrow (not embryos). The good news is that all stem cells are not alike so there is a chance these stem cells could transdifferentiate and turn into brain neurons. While this procedure is considered a long shot and radical, there is a glimmer of hope that mesenchymal stem cells could restore function to Aaditya.
Currently, most of the hair on Aaditya’s head has been removed as he prepares for surgery. Two three inch incisions will be made on the top of Aaditya’s skull and he will receive a stereotactic implantation of stem cells into eight bilateral symmetric points in his brain.
His amazing mother Tasneem and aunt Duriya say they are at peace and that, "He who has brought Aaditya so low will take him so high." This family’s faith is inspiring to say the least and they are asking the world to send them prayers for a successful surgery.
Aaditya’s surgery is scheduled for Thursday, December 18th,2008, from 9:30pm-12:30pm (if his current fever stops). You can leave a wish here for Aaditya or you can reach the family at Hope For Aaditya.