Stem Cell Therapy For Autism

Stem Cell Therapy: A Great Promise For The Future of Molecular Medicine For Autism

Ongoing research into every avenue to treat autism or possibly cure it has brought some researchers to the threshold of stem cell therapy.  Stem cell medicine is still in its infancy, and still is highly controversial.  Moving beyond the fetal stem cell issues and focusing more on the possibility of stem cells from cord blood helps researchers examine the possibility of a molecular medicinal approach for children and adults with ASD.

But that leads to an entirely new controversy unto itself.  Most adults with autism, especially those who can communicate, do not want a cure or a medicine that alters who they are.  They have identified that they are special people with special skill sets, and like the deaf community, they just aren’t interested in being “cured”.  The flip side of that argument is for the children who are having so many difficulties with school, society and peers, and the children on the lower functioning end of the spectrum.

Parents who face the challenges of autism every day are met with mixed emotions on the subject as well.  Some might say, “Absolutely, I want the cure or the treatment for my child”, while others would argue that it’s not for them and not for their children.  The parents who would not choose it for their autistic children are not cold-hearted people, but people who see their children as endearing and uniquely special, and love them unconditionally.  It’s a hard road to take, knowing that a choice you could have made may have benefited your child, but it also means that other features and traits in your child with autism remain a part of them and a part of who they are.

As the battle rages on for or against a cure or treatment that would alleviate autism symptoms, scientists are charging onward in the labs.  Parents now have the opportunity to harvest the umbilical cord and the cord blood at birth because the fetal stem cells in it could completely cure their child of any disease or illness in the future.  With that in mind, scientists are asking parents to donate some or  all of their cord blood to finding a cure or treatment for autism.

The cure or treatment developed would be delivered back into the child affected by autism when it begins to appear at age two.  Families who agree to participate are screened based upon family history and the number of children and adults in extended family that have been diagnosed with autism.  There certainly appears to be some genetic connection, as several families will have more than one child diagnosed with ASD over a couple of generations.  Cord blood is gathered and sent to the participating research lab with each birth in that family.  Some of it is used to look for genetic markers for ASD, and the rest is used to develop stem cell therapies that might work to counteract ASD, even when the cause is still relatively unknown.

The only FDA-approved stem cell therapy study currently undergoing research and development is out of Sacramento, CA, and the study won’t be finished for another year.  The children and their parents who have volunteered for the study did so only because they knew they had a child with autism and because they had harvested and saved the cord blood from their child’s birth years before.  Cord and cord blood banks deep freeze every patient’s sample, taking care to preserve the integrity of the cells found within.  Even in children without autism, stell cell therapy from their own cord blood has had a more positive impact on them than any treatment for childhood cancers or other physical maladies.

It is based upon the positive effects of cord blood stem cell therapies for these unfortunate diseases that the scientists hope to prove that cord blood stem cells are also effective against preventing the brain from damage, or curing it after the damage, of autism.  Essentially that is exactly what autism is; it is damage to specific areas of the brain, and that is why it can show up on an MRI/ neuroscan.

Other countries either claim to have the stem cell cure for autism already or are working on their own version of it.  Parents need to be particularly wary of any South American country that claims it can give the stem cell shots to their child and cure them, because no known or published medical trials of this sort have occurred in any of the countries there.  Additionally, these countries in South America claim that parents don’t need a sample of their autistic child’s cord blood for the treatment to work; on the contrary, that is exactly what is needed because only the child’s own cells can be reintroduced into their blood stream by injection.

Some European countries are still working on the research, but their results and findings are much farther along than the U.S.’s because they aren’t as squeamish about stem cell technology.  In fact, Great Britain has been using cord blood stem cells to treat diseases in children for almost a decade now, and recording their results publicly in medical journals.

Other lines of thought on cord blood stem cells run along the concept that the brain is deprived of oxygen in autistic children or that their guts are lacking the right peptides or bacteria causing them to behave in ways that aren’t in line with society’s expectations.   While there is some evidence to support these notions, further research into stem cell therapy to correct these two conditions in children with autism may advance medical science when it comes to understanding possible causes of ASD.  As of this moment, it hasn’t been fully ascertained that these problems are causes of ASD or just correlate it.

List of various therapies which might be useful in autism.
1). Does chelation therapy cure autism?
2). Does listening to music help ADD/ADHD or Autism?
3). What are the benefits of dance therapy for children with autism?

Also, check, “How to Find Funding for Autism Treatment“.