April is Autism Awareness Month. This annual event is designed to promote awareness and enable those affected by autism to achieve the highest quality of life possible. As the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to grow, scientists are striving to find new treatment methods, and one of the areas where experimental clinical trials are being conducted is stem cell therapy.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life. The term “spectrum” is used because the range of symptoms and the severity can vary significantly from person to person. While there is still no clearly identified cause of autism, a 2018 study at UC Davis MIND Institute found that autistic children have reduced immune system regulation, as well as shifts in their gut microbiota.
The role of stem cells
Cord blood and cord tissue are rich in hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells. Experts believe that these stem cells could be particularly effective in the field of regenerative medicine to treat conditions like autism. This is due to their anti-inflammatory properties and their potential to communicate with each other to promote healing. Investigations are underway to see if stem cell transplants can reduce neurological inflammation and regulate the immune response.
Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center are conducting a research programme to evaluate the efficacy of autologous and allogeneic cord blood for improving outcomes of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. So far, the findings have been promising. Phase 2 of the study began in November 2019 – you can monitor the results here https://stemcellsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sctm.16-0474
Wider uses of stem cells
Stem cells are expanding the possibilities of healthcare in many different areas. Besides current therapies for cancer and blood diseases, stem cells from newborn cord blood and tissue are being studied for new treatments in regenerative and transplant medicine. As well as autism, this includes conditions like cerebral palsy, hearing loss, heart defects, and diabetes. With over 80 diseases currently being treated and more being studied every day, banking your newborn’s stem cells opens up a world of opportunities to safeguard your family’s health.
For further information about stem cell storage and treatments, please contact us to find out more.