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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Blog

Autism and Stem Cell Therapy

Posted On: Thursday, May 16, 2019 Posted By: DBP team, Dr. Roula Choueiri Tags: Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama is investigating therapies to reverse and/or change the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The stem cells are taken from umbilical cord tissue with the idea that specific cytokines are correlated with the severity of autism. A review paper from 2007 implies that the abnormalities caused by the inflammatory cytokines is causative and the idea proposed is that the stem cells harvested from the umbilical cord blood, would be useful for treating autism.

Stem Cell
Stem Cells

Benefits reported are that stem cells from umbilical cords are much more potent than those harvested from bone marrow. They also provide minimal risk for rejection because the body does not recognize cord tissue stem cells as foreign. There are other therapies such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and hyperbaric oxygen. However, those have not proven to have a significant effect on symptoms of ASD and can have serious side effects.

We caution that this therapy has been flagged by the FDA who warned potential patients that the treatments could be “illegal and potentially harmful.” The only products the FDA has approved are stem cells involved in producing blood.

Cord Stem Cells
Origin of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

We hope to hear more about scientific studies and results!


Image/Media Links Links:

Stem Cell Image

Harvesting Stem Cells from Umbilical Cord