Stem cell therapy offers hope for autism

April 5, 2017


A study published by the journal: Stem Cells Translational Medicine, offers hope for families with a loved one with autism. During the study at Duke University in North Carolina, 25 children were given transfusions of their own umbilical cord blood containing stem cells to determine whether this therapy could help treat their autism. More than 2/3 of the children showed improvements. Dramatic improvements were noted in some of the study's participants in their behavior and language skills. According to Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, who headed the study, "some children who were not speaking very much had big increases in their vocabulary and functional speech"...and "many children were able to attend to play and have meaningful communication in a way that they weren't before. Some children had less repetitive behaviors than they did before the study." 


In a story reported by CNN, Gracie Gregory, who used to throw tantrums and screaming fits while in long lines or in restaurants, and who was challenged by daily tasks such as brushing her teeth or combing her hair, which could set her off, now attends a public school where she is thriving. Instead of shunning hugs, as she did before the stem cell therapy, her father says that she welcomes affection. 


The research continues. The study did not have a comparison group, which the researchers believe is necessary to determine whether a treatment is actually effective. The researchers are now in the middle of the definitive trial on whether cord blood can treat autism. This definitive trial, which is being overseen by the FDA, involves 165 autistic children, ranging in age from 2 to 8. During the trial, the children will, at various times, be given either treatment or a placebo, without first being told which is being given to them. The hoped for result is that the infusion of cord blood is more effective for improving social behavior and language skills than the placebo. 


Martha Millar Law

A special education law firm








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