How Effective is Stem Cell Therapy for Autism
Stem cell therapy for autism is considered to be a revolutionary upcoming research and treatment modality in the medical community. Cell therapy is a promising candidate for autism treatment and has shown significant improvement in symptoms. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of medical conditions characterized by two core symptoms: persistent deficits in social communication and interaction, and the second is restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. The condition is not usually diagnosed until the child is a few years old. The parent or principal pediatrician looks for symptoms such as difficulties with language and social skills, and rigid or repetitive behaviors.
According to CDC, the number of children with autism has been rising, especially in developed countries. The Summary of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Prevalence Studies show that over the last decade, the prevalence of autism in the United States has reached 1 in 59 children from 1 in 125. There are multiple risk factors and paths of development associated with Autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, some neurologists even consider it a “heterogeneous” disorder with complex neurodevelopmental problems, inflammatory conditions, and immune system dysfunction.
Autism Risk Factors
According to the published review on Autism risk factors, autism may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some children may be at risk due to a genetic component linked to autism. The research indicated 1000 potential genes associated with autism. The disorder run in families and twins or siblings of the patients are more likely to have autism. Multiple environmental factors associated with autism, such as parental age, mother’s health during pregnancy, exposure to heavy metals in early childhood, and several others.
Treatment for Autism
The currently available treatment for autism is a multimodal approach and varies for different children. It comprises some conventional therapies, such as social skills training, speech therapy, occupational therapy, along with psychotropic drugs, as well as some alternative treatments, including music therapy, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and cognitive and social-behavioral therapy. Among the new therapies, gene therapy and stem cell therapy for autism in India have shown great potential for the management of ASD in children.
Does it Work?
Studies indicate that the two important factors associated with autism are: lack of oxygen supply (Hypoperfusion) to the brain during or after the child’s birth and immune regulation/dysfunction. These factors may affect the brain function, causing irregularities or a decrease in the activity. It leads to an overarching imbalance in the brain that manifests as the characteristic symptoms of ASD. The neurobiological activity involved in ASD, doctors, and researchers looking at regenerative therapy using stem cells for the management of ASD. Stem cells are the special types of cells in our body that have the unique ability to regenerate and form all kinds of cells. They can perpetually multiply into many cells and differentiate into cells with a specialized function. This property of regeneration enables stem cells to help in repairing the damaged brain tissue involved in autism.
Stem cells repair the affected neural cells at the molecular, structural as well as functional level. They address the core neuropathological problem of ASD by following mechanisms –
- Unique paracrine regulatory activity that helps in regulating cell differentiation.
- Repair tissue and organ.
- Neurotrophic actions and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Angiogenesis (increase blood vessels for better oxygen supply).
Stem cell therapy using an autologous bone marrow transplant has shown to be an effective treatment modality. The clinical results have been remarkable in terms of symptomatic improvement and objective radiological improvements. The method is simple and safe and treatment modality that focuses on the repair of neural tissues. This therapy has significantly improved the quality of life of children with autism and helps them integrate back into society.
Stem Cell Therapy for Autism Results
Stem cell therapy clinical results have been reported and presented at global conferences organized by OMICS International. According to these reports, overall 134 (90%) out of 149 patients showed improvement in children after the therapy. These include a decrease in hyperactivity in 71.81% cases and reduced engagement in stereotypical and repetitive motor behaviors in 47.65% cases. It also reports improvement in sensory and motor functioning as well as in concentration and the attention span in 77% of children.
The overall positive developments in autism patients after stem cell therapy include:
- Reduced self-stimulatory behavior (34.22%).
- Improved eye contact (81.87%).
- Improved speech.
- Improvement communication skills (49.66%).
- Better social interactions (57.71%).
- Reduced aggressive and self-injuring behavior (46%).
The study also indicates that there were no major irreversible side effects or adverse events after the treatment with bone marrow-derived stem cells. All these results are backed by radiological imaging with a PET CT scan of the brain. The scan used to monitor the effect of autologous bone marrow stem cells in patients with autism at a cellular level. On comparison, the PET CT scan taken before and after 6 months of the therapy, showed corresponding results.