Autism is a spectrum disorder known to be caused by certain gene factors involved in brain development and early life environment. It is more common in boys than girls, with signs and symptoms appearing from age two to three years. It can be frequently associated with intellectual issues.
Recently, the first FDA-regulated clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of using cord blood stem cells to treat autism has launched. This study aims to try to reverse the effects of this disease where it is not attributable to other factors such as genetic disorders, head injury or prematurity. This will determine if there is potential treatment for autism using cord blood stem cells.
Stem cells from bone marrow have been used on some clinical trials as well, but here are some of the important reasons why umbilical cord blood stem cells are more ideal to be used for treatment of autism than many other sources of stem cells:
1. HLA matching is not necessary
If the patient who will receive the treatment is the owner of the umbilical cord blood, it is 100% match for him/her so there is no need for further HLA testing.
2. Umbilical cord is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells
Umbilical cord blood, especially the cord tissue has an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells which are being used on the current clinical trials for autism.
3. Process of collection is safe, easy and painless
Once the umbilical cord is cut and separated from the baby, the cord blood and a piece of cord tissue is collected with no negative side effects to the mother or baby. It is totally painless and will only take a few minutes to complete.
4. Less risk of GVHD (Graft-Versus-Host Disease)
Because the cord blood stem cells are a 100% match, and if the patient is the owner of the stem cells, there is less chance that the body will reject the injected stem cells.
The potential of cord blood is still being discovered but through the years, it’s been proven to save the lives of children and many adults. What’s more inspiring is that the best discoveries are yet to come.
There exists a possibility that because of the research and clinical trials being performed using cord blood stem cells, that is forever changing the way we treat conditions like heart disease, auto-immune deficiency disorders and autism.