As parents, we will do anything to help our children. Finding the right treatment for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder ranks right at the top.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects 1 in 59 children. Parents are told treatments can help, but that this condition can’t be cured. Because there are more than 200,000 U.S. cases per year, multiple treatment plans are offered, and it’s difficult to navigate through all of the options.
Stem Cell Therapy for ASD
One of the most recent treatment options being discussed is stem cell therapy. Although the therapies in the US are still experimental, there have been some promising results. Since no cure currently exists for autism spectrum disorder, the goal of treatment is to maximize a child’s ability to function by reducing ASD symptoms and supporting development.
The big question on everyone’s mind is, will stem cell therapy help treat autism?
Well, the answer isn’t a definitive one, and reviews are hard to come by because treatments in the U.S. are not FDA approved, experimental or not allowed at all. To help gather all of the latest information, we put together a list of well-reviewed stem cell clinics, docs, and resources.
The current therapies mostly utilize stem cells from birth tissue that’s high in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). But because most families don’t have birth tissue (cord blood, tissue, and placenta), some families are finding it helpful to store their own child’s stem cells non-invasively when their child loses a tooth (dental stem cells).
The Difference in Cord Blood vs. Cord Tissue, Placenta and Dental Stem Cells
Stem cells from cord blood are commonly used in the treatment of childhood blood diseases such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and lymphoma, to help replenish the patient’s blood supply with healthy new cells. These stem cells cannot be duplicated, and experts say due to the low volume of blood collected, they may only be able to treat a child until approximately ten years of age.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from birth tissue, placenta and teeth are more versatile as they can be used for treatments other than blood disorders and they can be duplicated for a lifetime of use. This type of cell has the potential to be transformed into other cells including cardiac, muscle, bone, cartilage, nerve, and fat tissue.
The mesenchymal stem cells found in teeth are the most widely researched type of stem cell. Based on the research so far, the best use for dental stem cells seems to be focused on neurological disorders and disease of the brain. This makes sense since the stem cells from teeth are found in our head.
Current studies offer hope for mental illness, diseases of the brain like autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and neurological conditions like cerebral palsy, MS, and Parkinson’s.
In addition to treating conditions, MSCs are being used for other regenerative, preventative, and anti-aging benefits.
What Can Stem Cells Do For ASD?
Researchers hope to improve brain development with stem cell therapy.
Here are some anticipated improvements in autistic children after stem cell therapy:
- Better tolerance of foods and improved digestion
- More adequate behavior and social skills
- Less or no fear of loud noises, strangers and bright colors
- Improved verbal skills, speech
- Improvement of writing skills
- Improved self-care skills
- Improved attention span, memory, and concentration
Because dental stem cells are in close proximity to the brain, they are being used for disorders related to the brain. Stem cells are thought to replenish damaged brain cells, reduce inflammation, increase immunity and blood flow so that the body can heal itself. There are many studies being conducted in order to better understand the benefits stem cells provide our bodies. Once the scientific community has a better understanding of stem cells it is hoped that a whole new medical world will be opened up.
Although we are in the early stage of dental stem cell research, the data is promising. As always, do your stem cell research. You know what the best course of action is for your child and your family. We all want to do everything we can to get the absolute best results, and when you do the research, the answers fall into place.
Resources, Reviews, Stem Cell Clinics, and Doctors
We posted an article recently about the work being done with Dental Stem Cells and the Tooth Fairy led by Dr. Alysson Muotri of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Here are the links for more information about the research and to Dr. Muotri’s Lab.
Link to the video review of the research:
Link to basic info about baby teeth and stem cells:
Link to Dr. Muotri’s laboratory:
Other notable research is being spearheaded by Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, MD Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.
More info can be found here: https://autismcenter.duke.edu/.
Another study was done using umbilical cord blood and children with autism at Duke University:
To stay in the loop with current and upcoming clinical trials based in the United States visit:
Are their Stem Cell Treatments for Autism Available Now?
Yes. Although the options are limited, there are a few reputable clinics that we follow closely. We have reviewed dozens of outcomes and the feedback from the parents have been very positive.
Dr. Riordan – The Stem Cell Institute (Panama) can be found here:
Dr. Eduardo and Dr. Freddy – World Stem Cells Clinic (Mexico) can found here: https://worldstemcellsclinic.com/
- Perets, N, Oron, O, Herman, S, Elliott, E, Offen, D. Exosomes derived from mesenchymal stem cells improved core symptoms of genetically modified mouse model of autism Shank3B. Mol Autism. 2020;11 (1):65. doi: 10.1186/s13229-020-00366-x. PubMed PMID:32807217 PubMed Central PMC7433169.
- Sun, JM, Dawson, G, Franz, L, Howard, J, McLaughlin, C, Kistler, B et al.. Infusion of human umbilical cord tissue mesenchymal stromal cells in children with autism spectrum disorder. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2020; :. doi: 10.1002/sctm.19-0434. PubMed PMID:32531111 .
- Pistollato, F, Forbes-Hernández, TY, Calderón Iglesias, R, Ruiz, R, Elexpuru Zabaleta, M, Cianciosi, D et al.. Pharmacological, non-pharmacological and stem cell therapies for the management of autism spectrum disorders: A focus on human studies. Pharmacol. Res. 2020;152 :104579. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104579. PubMed PMID:31790820 .
- Sampaio, GLA, Martins, GLS, Paredes, BD, Nonaka, CKV, da Silva, KN, Rossi, EA et al.. Generation of an induced pluripotent stem cell line from a patient with autism spectrum disorder and SCN2A haploinsufficiency. Stem Cell Res. 2019;39 :101488. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2019.101488. PubMed PMID:31272037 .
- Netsrithong, R, Promnakhon, N, Boonkaew, B, Vatanashevanopakorn, C, Pattanapanyasat, K, Wattanapanitch, M et al.. Generation of two induced pluripotent stem cell lines (MUSIi011-A and MUSIi011-B) from peripheral blood T lymphocytes of a healthy individual. Stem Cell Res. 2019;39 :101487. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2019.101487. PubMed PMID:31229899 .
- Riordan, NH, Hincapié, ML, Morales, I, Fernández, G, Allen, N, Leu, C et al.. Allogeneic Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children: Safety Profile and Effect on Cytokine Levels. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2019;8 (10):1008-1016. doi: 10.1002/sctm.19-0010. PubMed PMID:31187597 PubMed Central PMC6766688.
- Liu, Q, Chen, MX, Sun, L, Wallis, CU, Zhou, JS, Ao, LJ et al.. Rational use of mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. World J Stem Cells. 2019;11 (2):55-72. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v11.i2.55. PubMed PMID:30842805 PubMed Central PMC6397804.
- Perets, N, Betzer, O, Shapira, R, Brenstein, S, Angel, A, Sadan, T et al.. Golden Exosomes Selectively Target Brain Pathologies in Neurodegenerative and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Nano Lett. 2019;19 (6):3422-3431. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b04148. PubMed PMID:30761901 .
- Perets, N, Hertz, S, London, M, Offen, D. Intranasal administration of exosomes derived from mesenchymal stem cells ameliorates autistic-like behaviors of BTBR mice. Mol Autism. 2018;9 :57. doi: 10.1186/s13229-018-0240-6. PubMed PMID:30479733 PubMed Central PMC6249852.
- Beys-da-Silva, WO, Rosa, RL, Santi, L, Berger, M, Park, SK, Campos, AR et al.. Zika Virus Infection of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Promotes Differential Expression of Proteins Linked to Several Neurological Diseases. Mol. Neurobiol. 2019;56 (7):4708-4717. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1417-x. PubMed PMID:30377986 PubMed Central PMC6491274.
- Nguyen, HTN, Kato, H, Masuda, K, Yamaza, H, Hirofuji, Y, Sato, H et al.. Impaired neurite development associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in dopaminergic neurons differentiated from exfoliated deciduous tooth-derived pulp stem cells of children with autism spectrum disorder. Biochem Biophys Rep. 2018;16 :24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2018.09.004. PubMed PMID:30258988 PubMed Central PMC6153399.
- Arai, Y, Taverna, E. Neural Progenitor Cell Polarity and Cortical Development. Front Cell Neurosci. 2017;11 :384. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00384. PubMed PMID:29259543 PubMed Central PMC5723293.
- Perets, N, Segal-Gavish, H, Gothelf, Y, Barzilay, R, Barhum, Y, Abramov, N et al.. Long term beneficial effect of neurotrophic factors-secreting mesenchymal stem cells transplantation in the BTBR mouse model of autism. Behav. Brain Res. 2017;331 :254-260. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.03.047. PubMed PMID:28392323 .
- Nitkin, CR, Bonfield, TL. Concise Review: Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Pediatric Disease: Perspectives on Success and Potential Improvements. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2017;6 (2):539-565. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2015-0427. PubMed PMID:28191766 PubMed Central PMC5442806.
- A M Duarte, F. Retraction RETRACTION of two articles with plagiarism in common. Genet. Mol. Res. 2016;15 (4):. doi: 10.4238/gmr.1504004. PubMed PMID:27808396 .
- Ha, S, Park, H, Mahmood, U, Ra, JC, Suh, YH, Chang, KA et al.. Human adipose-derived stem cells ameliorate repetitive behavior, social deficit and anxiety in a VPA-induced autism mouse model. Behav. Brain Res. 2017;317 :479-484. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.10.004. PubMed PMID:27717813 .
- Li, Q, Chen, CF, Wang, DY, Lü, YT, Huan, Y, Fang, SX et al.. Changes in growth factor levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of autism patients after transplantation of human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells and umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Genet. Mol. Res. 2016;15 (2):. doi: 10.4238/gmr.15027526. PubMed PMID:27323064 .
- Belinson, H, Nakatani, J, Babineau, BA, Birnbaum, RY, Ellegood, J, Bershteyn, M et al.. Prenatal β-catenin/Brn2/Tbr2 transcriptional cascade regulates adult social and stereotypic behaviors. Mol. Psychiatry. 2016;21 (10):1417-33. doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.207. PubMed PMID:26830142 PubMed Central PMC5685528.
- Segal-Gavish, H, Karvat, G, Barak, N, Barzilay, R, Ganz, J, Edry, L et al.. Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation Promotes Neurogenesis and Ameliorates Autism Related Behaviors in BTBR Mice. Autism Res. 2016;9 (1):17-32. doi: 10.1002/aur.1530. PubMed PMID:26257137 .
- Simberlund, J, Ferretti, CJ, Hollander, E. Mesenchymal stem cells in autism spectrum and neurodevelopmental disorders: pitfalls and potential promises. World J. Biol. Psychiatry. 2015;16 (6):368-375. doi: 10.3109/15622975.2015.1067372. PubMed PMID:26230216 .
- Gesundheit, B, Ashwood, P, Keating, A, Naor, D, Melamed, M, Rosenzweig, JP et al.. Therapeutic properties of mesenchymal stem cells for autism spectrum disorders. Med. Hypotheses. 2015;84 (3):169-77. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2014.12.016. PubMed PMID:25592283 .
- Bradstreet, JJ, Sych, N, Antonucci, N, Klunnik, M, Ivankova, O, Matyashchuk, I et al.. Efficacy of fetal stem cell transplantation in autism spectrum disorders: an open-labeled pilot study. Cell Transplant. 2014;23 Suppl 1 :S105-12. doi: 10.3727/096368914X684916. PubMed PMID:25302490 .
- Siniscalco, D, Bradstreet, JJ, Sych, N, Antonucci, N. Mesenchymal stem cells in treating autism: Novel insights. World J Stem Cells. 2014;6 (2):173-8. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v6.i2.173. PubMed PMID:24772244 PubMed Central PMC3999775.
- Ng, TK, Fortino, VR, Pelaez, D, Cheung, HS. Progress of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for neural and retinal diseases. World J Stem Cells. 2014;6 (2):111-9. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v6.i2.111. PubMed PMID:24772238 PubMed Central PMC3999769.
- Lv, YT, Zhang, Y, Liu, M, Qiuwaxi, JN, Ashwood, P, Cho, SC et al.. Transplantation of human cord blood mononuclear cells and umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells in autism. J Transl Med. 2013;11 :196. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-11-196. PubMed PMID:23978163 PubMed Central PMC3765833.