Photo: macbeck via Flickr
A highly experimental stem cell study is starting to enroll participants today. The study will use stem cells from an autistic child’s own umbilical cord blood, which was collected at birth, to hopefully treat language-related symptoms of the disorder. Approximately 30 children between the ages of 2 and 7 will be accepted into the trial. They must have autism and have cord blood banked at the local Cord Blood Registry, a private umbilical cord blood bank in San Bruno, California.
“Our research is important because many people are going to foreign countries and spending a lot of money on therapy that may not be valid,” Michael Chez, a pediatric neurologist and lead investigator of the study at the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California, told Nature.
“This is an exciting trial, because it’s exposing us to the new frontier of stem cells and whether they may have some positive effect on this disease,” Chez told the Sacramento Bee. “This is the start of a new age of research in stem cell therapies for chronic diseases such as autism.”
A similar study was previously conducted in China, with donated cord blood, and a third group is currently recruiting Mexican children for a study that will use stem cells taken from the participants fat tissue. No studies on the results of these trials have been published yet.
From the Nature article:
“I wish I could tell you I’m optimistic about the end results,” says James Carroll, a pediatric neurologist, at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta, began a clinical trial two years ago to better understand how stem cell therapy affects patients with cerebral palsy. “But so far we have not seen any kind of miraculous recovery in our cerebral palsy patients. I would be delighted if that changes.”
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