Stem Cell Therapy: Hope for Children with Autism
Having a child who is diagnosed with autism is a concerning problem of many parents these days. Over time, the number of kids suffering from the condition has been gradually increasing. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 1 out of 59 children had autism. Among them, 31% suffer from intellectual disability – with an IQ score of less than 70.
Because autism is associated with biological changes in the nervous system, cell-based treatment is believed to effectively work in treating the condition. In fact, clinical trials that involve the use of stem cells have ended up with mostly promising results.
Learn about Autism
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a type of developmental disorder characterized by a deficiency in communication, learning and social interaction. In addition, other common symptoms include repetitive behavior, extreme sensory sensitivity, constipation, and chronic diarrhea. An ASD often starts with disruption in the growth and differentiation of nerve cells, which then affects the neural migration and maturation, the creation of synapses, and the neuron network function.
ASDs can be divided into 3 main categories: Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger Syndrome. Among them, Autism is the most popular.
The causes of autism have not yet been defined. However, researchers believe that a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors plays a key role in the development of autism. For example, the likelihood of families that have an autistic child to have another one is up to 20%.
Causes of Autism
Why Autism has received so much attention
Autism is capable of significantly impacting one’s life quality. Often, children with autism have great difficulty in communicating, using language, expressing abstract information and socializing with other people. Over time, more serious emotional and behavioral issues may rise up, including aggression, anxiety, mood swing, depression, sleep disorders, functional disability, etc.
The signs and symptoms of autism are not universal. While some kids with autism have trouble learning new things, others may exhibit high intelligence, yet impaired ability to communicate and apply their knowledge to real-life situations. Depending on the level of function impairments, the condition’s severity may vary.
How can Autism be treated?
Due to the detrimental effects that the condition poses on patients’ lives, many parents whose kids suffer from autism have made every effort to find an effective treatment method. Previously, there was no effective cure for autism. In fact, the basis of most conventional treatment is adapted learning methods and specialized diets.
- Medications like antibiotics and anti‐inflammatory agents may be useful in controlling the symptoms.
- Speech therapy, which involves the use of exercises and audiovisual equipment, can aid in the child’s habit of oral communication.
- Occupational therapy may help autistic children develop essential skills for their daily life.
- Physiotherapy, which utilizes massage and physical movements, can make it easier for autistic children to live an independent life.
- Hormonal therapies that employ oxytocin have also shown potential in controlling central ASD symptoms.
- Nutritional supplements like herbals, essential oils, and vitamins may be taken to reduce ASD symptoms.
The problem of the above-mentioned methods is that none of them deal with autism’s root cause – biological changes in the brain that occurred while the child was in the mother’s womb. For this reason, many researchers have turned their attention to another treatment – stem cell therapy.
Stem cell therapy
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have not developed any particular functions. They have the ability to endlessly replicate themselves, and develop into all types of functional cells.
Among their various unique features, the two below are the main reasons for these cells’ extensive medical applications:
- Paracrine effects – The ability to alter existing cells, and stimulate the body’s self-repairing process via cytokines, chemokines, and other growth factors.
- Immunomodulatory properties – The ability to regulate and strengthen the immune system.
Stem cell therapy for Autism
Why use stem cells to treat Autism
Research has shown a strong correlation between ASDs and the production of inflammatory cytokines – specifically macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) and Thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC). Abnormal monocyte and macrophage responses are responsible for the overproduction of proinflammatory IL-1β cytokines, which affects the body’s CD3+, CD4+, CD8+ T cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. Eventually, this will lead to long-term changes to the molecular and immune system.
Due to their anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, stem cells can be administered to reduce inflammation and other autistic symptoms. After being transplanted into the body, these cells help slow down the growth of pro-inflammatory tumor necrosis factor-alpha, while stimulating that of anti-inflammatory IL-10. As a result, they prevent the overactivation of CD8+, CD4+ T lymphocytes, and NK cells.
How stem cells work in treating Autism
Autism is characterized by hypoperfusion in the brain, which has been proven to cause abnormal functionalities in autism patients. This problem can be addressed via the use of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the umbilical cord. Thanks to their regenerative nature, MSCs can stimulate the restoration of neuron connection and synaptic transmission. In addition, they also aid in enhancing blood flow, promoting the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), and regulating the immune system. As a result, patients may expect a boost to the brain’s development and its reaction capability.
The use of umbilical cord MSCs in treating autism boasts a variety of benefits:
- Less risk of rejection: Since MSCs are immune privileged, cell rejection is less likely to happen.
- Better improvements: MSCs are known to be the best type of stem cells in terms of anti-inflammation, immunomodulatory and regenerative capability.
- More convenience: Umbilical cord-deprived MSCs are readily available and do not require the use of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to collect stem cells. In addition, they can be injected many times in the day.
After receiving stem cell treatment, autistic patients may expect the following improvements:
- Mental development;
- Stabilized muscle tone;
- Improved metabolism;
- Less repetitive behavior;
- Enhanced communication, memory, concentration and learning ability;
- Tolerance to various types of food.
Where can I find Stem cell-based Autism treatment?
At GO.CARE, we work with the best stem cell clinics & centers in Asia. Our partners provide high-end treatment for various diseases – including Autism. At hospitals like Better Being Hospital, StemCells21, EW Villa Medica and Good Life Center, treatment protocol combines stem cell treatment with rehabilitation programs to enhance the success rate. Some supportive therapies include acupuncture, occupational therapy, aquatic therapy, vitamin drips, and special diet plans.
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GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment services.
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Autism Stem Cell Therapy. https://www.stemcells21.com/conditions-treated/developmental-disorder-stem-cell/autism-treatment-stem-cell-therapy/. Accessed on September 30, 2019.
Autism / Stem Cell Therapy. https://globalstemcells.com/treatment/autism/. Accessed on September 30, 2019.
Stem Cell Therapy for Autism. https://stemcelltreatmentnow.com/treatments/stem-cell-treatment-autism/. Accessed on September 30, 2019.