“STEM CELLS FOR AUTISM – PROGRESS TO DATE”
A parent’s caution and skepticism when evaluating whether stem cell treatment for their child’s Autism is warranted given the number of times “miracle cure for autism” has been crammed down their throats. Placebo and expectation effects are definitely a legit concern…but (you knew there was a but, didn’t you), if you look at the science of adult or repair stem cells (these are not embryonic btw), here’s what you will find:
1. General results:
There have been ~1300 peer reviewed, FDA approved, clinical trials with adult stem cells to date and most (almost all) have shown that adult stem cell implantation is safe and effective and provides therapeutic benefit to the patient. http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/do-stem-cell-treatments-work/
2. Autism specific results:
As for Autism and stem cells, there haven’t been any FDA approved clinical trials completed to date, except for the hyperbaric chamber trial, which is weak and tangential at best. The argument appears to be:
- If hyperbaric chamber therapy helps autism
- And hyperbaric chamber increases stem cell production
- Then stem cells help Autism
3. Nonetheless, there is an excellent argument for the viability of stem cells to treat Autism. Here is an exhaustive study gauging the potential of a clinical trial on the benefits of stem cells treating Autism: http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/5/1/30
4. There is additional evidence that Stem Cells can treat Autism here: http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/autism-stem-cells-a-brief-history/
5. Placebo/expectation effect:
Do stem cell treatments create a placebo/expectation effect? Good question. You can find the answer here: http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/the-stem-cell-placebo-effect/
6. Clinic’s responsibility regarding claims of success:
Stem cell clinics must be up-front regarding the results of their therapy and unless you see this type of clear, open and honest disclaimer, I would be skeptical about going to a clinic: “We would like to point out from the start that there are still some questions concerning the function of stem cells that science has not yet been able to answer, and that despite the advances that have been made recently there is no guarantee for the success of stem cell therapy. Nevertheless, every week we see this new “medicine” helping a lot of people. Therefore, we offer therapies with adult stem cells whenever classical treatment does not yield the type of results that are satisfactory for the patient.” In addition, this facility points out that only 70% of patients responded and they are up-front as to how they define improvement. Personally, I would see this kind of clear definition of defining “improvement” than someone throwing out some empty and unsubstantiated claims.
7. Costs of treatment:
Is it worth it? Let’s put aside for the moment that “there is no price to great to secure your child’s health” because that does not factor in your financial situation and look at the comparative costs.
- Michael Ganz, an assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, has examined the cost of autism for US society //and has found that the disease costs a person $3.2 million over the entire life span. – http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/The-Price-Of-Autism-9735-1/
- And “…a nearby school operated by the May Institute that practices behavior modification on its autistic students charges school districts $100,000 per year in tuition. And home-based ABA/behavior modification programs charge about $75,000 a year for 25 hours a week of therapy, supervision and team meetings. Parents have been known to remortgage their homes or go bankrupt in an attempt to fund these programs.” http://autismtomorrows.blogspot.com/2009/10/cost-effectiveness-and-autism-treatment.html
All the evidence and many, many patients treated successfully, reinforce that stem cells are a powerful and underutilized tool for Autism and Asperger’s patient recovery .