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Moderators: Frank van Bel and Cora Nijboer, Perinatal Center and NIDOD Lab, Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital/University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands 
Contributors: Michael Cotton, Duke University (USA), Vivi Heine, VUmc, Reint Jellema, Maastricht University (The Netherlands)

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a heterogeneous syndrome with a prevalence between 1.0 and 2.4 per 1000 live births. Focal arterial infarction and birth asphyxia in term neonates and intraventricular hemorrhage and/or white matter injury in preterm neonates are the most frequent causes of CP, often further complicated by life-long cognitive deficits. Also genetic white matter disorders in children carry a high risk for motor and cognitive deficits. Currently, no causative treatment options are available. Because of the long-lasting burden of the consequences of (neonatal) brain damage for patients, their families and society, novel effective treatment strategies are urgently needed.
The aim is to fill this void by developing cell based-therapies to reduce life-long consequences of brain damage. Experimental murine and ovine models of (neonatal) hypoxic-ischemic brain damage showed that intracerebral or systemic application of stem cells (SCs) stimulated formation of new neurons and oligodendrocytes, and improved (functional) outcome.
SC therapy can be applied autologously by using (mesenchymal) SCs (MSCs) derived from the umbilical cord’s blood or the Wharton’s Jelly. Allogenic transplantation by using cultured third party-SCs, such as bone marrow-derived MSCs, is another option for SC therapy. SCs can be applicated intravenously, but local application might be superior. Recent studies with MSCs indicate that non-invasive application to the brain is possible via the nasal route, after which the transplanted cells only accumulate in the damaged areas of the brain. Moreover, MSC transplantation seems to be a safe and feasible therapy on the long-term.
This presymposium intends to discuss the translation of the results of experimental studies concerning stem cell research for neonatal and pediatric brain disorders into daily clinical practice.


  • Keynote: Michael Cotton, Duke University - Dept of Pediatricskeynote,  Autologous cord blood cells for neonatal encephalopathy: phase 1 trial results and progress with phase 2

  • Frank van Bel, UMCU- Neonatology: Mesenchymal stem cells for neonatal stroke: from bench to bedside

  • Vivi Heine, VUmc – CNCR,  Towards cell replacement therapy for children with vanishing white matter disease

  • Reint Jellema, Maastricht University - Dept Pediatrics, Stem cell therapy for hypoxic-ischemic injury in the preterm brain

  • Cora Nijboer, UMCU- NeuroImmunology (NIDOD), Stem cell treatment for white matter injury in the preterm brain