FDA-Approved Cord Blood Trial Underway
By Shana R. Spindler, Ph.D. on September 10, 2012
Researchers have linked Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to variations in hundreds of genes, but some children with autism do not carry any of these known genetic changes. A team of doctors from the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California observed that cord blood infusions helped improve the condition of a young boy who developed Cerebral Palsy after being trapped in the birth canal for seven hours. The doctors hypothesized that cord blood stem cells, which can communicate with other cells in ways we do not fully understand, may help fix the underlying problem in children with ASD.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a clinical trial that will examine the use of cord blood stem cells in the treatment of ASD. Thirty children who have a form of autism with no known genetic cause will receive infusions of their own cord blood in a controlled pilot study. How the cord blood stem cells will target the underlying causes of autism remains unclear.
Why it’s important:
The environmental roots of autism are poorly understood, making treatment tricky. Through innovative clinical trials, we stand to gain important information about therapeutic strategies for autism with diverse etiology.
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