Stem Cells May Provide Autism Breakthrough
A new study is giving hope to families of children who have autism. Researchers at Duke University enrolled 25 children with autism in a recent one-of-a-kind study to determine if their own umbilical cord blood—which can be taken and frozen at birth and contains rare stem cells—could be used as a treatment.
For the study, the children—who were between the ages of two and six—received cord blood transfusions of 1 billion to 2 billion cells through an IV and underwent an initial evaluation. Then, over the course of one year, the researchers performed three series of tests that included autism assessments, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor brain activity. Results of the study showed cord blood to be safe.
A larger, more comprehensive study is currently underway, but so far, the results have been impressive. According to researchers, more than two-thirds of children in the pilot study—about 70 percent—showed improvements in autism symptoms.
Image Credit: Thinkstock