Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is a neurological developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in communication and socialization, repetitive behavior, limited interests and activities, and affects about 1-2% of the population.
As the causes of this condition are not yet clear, autism is today treated mainly through nutritional and behavioral plans, in addition to the use of drugs, aimed at improving or encouraging behavioral attitudes.
However, several scientific studies focus on this condition, using cell therapy as a treatment for autism. These include clinical studies conducted by Dr. Johanne Kurtzberg, Professor of the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine in Norh Carolina, investigating the potential of stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood and tissue.
Thanks to their regenerative properties, umbilical cord stem cells are able to release growth factors that induce the generation of new cells and tissues, and also contribute to neuro-regeneration. In particular, the Duke ACT study was designed by Dr. Kurtzberg and his team to confirm that autologous (self-derived) umbilical cord stem cell infusions improve the main disorders of autism, such as dysfunction in communication, attention and brain connectivity in general.
The study involved 180 children aged between 2 and 7 years, divided between cell therapy and placebo treatment, both with autologous (self-derived) and allogeneic (from compatible donor) umbilical cord stem cells for those who did not have their own. The Duke Act Study showed very encouraging results for the subgroup of children between 4 and 7 years of age who received umbilical cord stem cell treatment. Significant improvements in communication, eye movement tracking (attention) and brain scans were observed in these children. The study will therefore now be opened to phase II.
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