In the past few months, researchers have found that stem cell therapy can treat a series of very hard to cure conditions. Now, specialists believe that stem cell therapy may also be able to treat autism.
Researchers have received the approval to launch a new study on the influence that stem cell therapy has on children suffering from autism. Autism researchers will evaluate if a child’s own umbilical cord blood stem cells can be an efficient treatment or not.
This new study will be performed on a number of 30 children suffering from autism. These children are aged between 2 and 7. Each child with the disorder will receive injections with stem cells from their own umbilical cord blood. The stem cells have been banked in cord blood banks by their parents, immediately after the children’s birth.
Stem cell therapy is expected to improve language and behavior in children with autism. Well, this new study will show if researchers were right or not. Specialists hope that at least part of the group of patients will react positively to the treatment.
Even though there have been previous attempts to link stem cell therapy with autism cure, this is the first time when a child’s own cord blood stem cells will be used. However, researchers say that the study will only involve patients whose condition is not linked to a genetic syndrome or brain injury.
The study will last no less than 13 months. During this period of time children will be constantly monitored. At the beginning of the study, children will be split in two main groups. Half will receive an infusion of cord blood stem cells. The other half will receive a placebo infusion. After six months, the two groups will switch therapies.
Close monitoring will begin since the moment of this first infusion. Each child will be placed in a private room with television. Then, a topical anesthetic will be administrated to the arm of each subject, before intravenous needle placement. The infusions will be administrated by a hematology expert, for an increased safety. Each child will be watched closely for about an hour and a half. If everything seems to be all right, the patient will be allowed to go home. The next day, all children will be seen again, for safety check.
At six weeks specialists will measure for the first time the behavioral and language changes, if there are any. Similar checkups are scheduled at 12 and 24 weeks, as well. Parents are advised to be extra attentive to any changes that occur with their children within this period.
Statistics show that one in 88 children is diagnosed with autism, only in the United States. This disease is not known to have an exact cause, so there is nothing parents can do to prevent its development. Autism has no treatment, either. The disease affects social, behavioral and language development.
A preliminary result of the new study is expected this year. While some specialists claim that stem cell therapy can be very effective in improving autism symptoms, others say that it is completely ineffective. This study aims to show which of the two theories is the right one.