Families with autistic children must navigate a condition where questions outnumber the answers, and therapies remain sparse and largely ineffective. A clinical trial being conducted by the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California to address this situation began recruiting participants today for a highly experimental stem cell therapy for autism. The institute plans to find 30 autistic children between ages 2 and 7 with cord blood banked at the privately-run Cord Blood Registry, located about 100 miles west of the institute. – Spoonful of Medicine
China has already completed, but not published, a study using stem cells from cord blood with 37 participants. Mexico is recruiting participants for a study. And now, the US is about to start their own. There are already people that have used stem cells from cord blood as a treatment for autism. But, with no scientific basis for this treatment, the medical community wants to conduct studies to see if it is effective.
As an autistic parent, I know that there are a lot of “fad” treatments. Whether they work or not, is another matter. Regardless, parents will spend a lot of money to try anything if there is a chance that it will help their child. Even if it seems to help them. I’m for this trial, and more, to help determine if this should be a treatment for autism.
Opinions on Cord Blood Stem Cell Trial
I asked one medical professional what her thoughts were on this trial. Here is her response:
The clinical trial is simply that: a trial. Although this gives hope and promise for a new solution, families should stay cautiously optimistic until results are published in a peer-reviewed journal, conclusive, independently replicated and are vetted by a trusted scientific organizations (such as www.ASATonline.org). In the last 10 years, only 43% of clinical trials have been published in peer reviewed journals, which indicates that many of these trials were unsuccessful. I am excited to see how this research develops and hope for the best. – Sara Gershfeld, MA, BCBA , on the Board of Directors of The Association for Science in Autism Treatment, and the Founder of www.lovemyprovider.com .
I found this quote on Bloomberg. I think it helps put into perspective this trial, and the chances of it leading to a treatment. I tend to agree with both quotes. This is one trial, and chances are high that the results won’t have a big impact. However, it’s a start. All good breakthroughs in science started with one trial.
Ricardo Dolmetsch, a neurobiologist at Stanford University in California whose laboratory is studying autism, said he doesn’t think the trial will yield much in usable results, though he’s glad the idea of using stem cells is being testing.
“I commend them for having the guts to actually do it, given that there are all kinds of people out there trying to sell it,” he said. “On the other hand I don’t think it’s big enough to provide an answer.” – Bloomberg
One parent on Twitter tweeted me her response:
Kimberly Sam @kykeyu
My thoughts? Probably another ghost hunt. I will not risk the health or the well being of my child in a study such as this.
I agree. It would take more than the results of this one study for me to believe that it is safe for me to try this treatment. Like I said, though, it’s a start. We’ll see how things go with this one, and the ones after it.
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