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Autism - how can umbilical cord blood stem cells help? 2012-09-12

Families with autistic children must navigate a condition where questions outnumber the answers, and therapies remain sparse and largely ineffective. What is known, that the condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person's communication and social interaction skills.


An idea to start a clinical phase II trial belongs to Sutter neuroscience institute (California, Sacramento, USA). The study`sprimary goal will be assessing changes in patients speaking and understanding of vocabulary. It is believed that it also will demonstrate improvement in social behaviour and learning.


The study lounched on August 21 will recruit 30 autistic children between the ages of 2 and 7, whose cord blood stem cells are stored in private bank. In so called double-blind study, in which neither patiens nor researchers know which subject receive treatment and which receive placebos (saline), 15 of the children will get an infusion of their cord blood (minimum 10 million total nucleated cells per kilogram)) and 15 will receive saline solution. After 24 weeks these two groups will switch. Time frame - 6 months.


Already one other clinical trial, with 37 total participants between ages 3 and 12 years old, has been completed in China. The researchers affiliated with Beike Biotech have not yet published any papers from that trial, which used stem cells from donated cord blood. Mexican researchers are currently recruiting kids for yet another type of autism stem cell trial that will harvest cells from the participants fat tissue.


Not all stem cell scientists who study neurodevelopemental disease are ready to invest great hope that the autism stem cell trial will succeed. But one of the investigators Dr. Michael Carroll, medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Hematological Malignancies Program at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento sais:"I've seen how stem cell therapy has changed my field of medicine and how I care for my blood cancer patients. I am eager to see how our work can open new doors for patients and families dealing with autism."


More information in article. Information about clinical trial  here.