Stem cell therapy inches towards an autism cure

Researchers and physicians are increasingly acknowledging the positive role stem cell therapy plays in managing a host of complicated ailments that were once very difficult to handle.

Among such health conditions is autism, the neuro-developmental disorder that impacts the brain of children and severely hinders development of communication and social interaction skills.

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“There is a positive impact of stem cell therapy and conventional rehabilitation for autistic children. Over a period of time, hyperactivity among children is reduced, they are calmer and their eye contact has improved. Attention span and the ability to sit at one place have improved. This allows rehabilitation specialists to work more efficiently with children,” claims Nandini Gokulchandran of Neurogen Brain and Spine Institute, Mumbai.

For the past four years, the researcher has been working with 250 children from across the world on stem-cell therapy and autism.

In fact, results from a study of stem cells impact on 32 autistic children by researchers led by Alok Sharma and Dr. Gokulchandran were published in the journal Stem Cells International .


the imbalance

Dr. Gokulchandran, who was in the city recently to deliver a talk on autism organised by Durgabai Deshmukh Vocational Training and Rehabilitation Centre, says that through stem cells, vital organs inside the brain are targeted for rejuvenation.

It is widely known that inside the brain, three vital parts – cerebellum, hippocampus and amygdala – function lesser among autistic children. Other parts in the brain are hyperactive, creating an imbalance.

“Through stem cell therapy, we are addressing this imbalance. We use children’s own stem cell collected through their brain marrow and inject them into the spinal fluid. The fluid goes all around the brain and spine and gives it nutrition and rejuvenates the affected organs,” she explains.

Homing in

Instead of injecting the stem cells through the traditional IV (Intravenous) through the arm, researchers directly inject it near the brain and spine. This enables stem cells to reach the ‘problem area’ quickly, thereby increasing the efficacy of the repairing mechanism.

“Stem cells have a homing instinct and once injected; on their own they have the ability to go to problem areas. Over a period of time, when the child undergoes rehabilitation through speech therapy, schooling and occupation therapy, these cells also get trained or guided by the rehab, thus helping the brain. Rehabilitation and stem cell therapy compliment each other,” says Dr. Sharma, who is director of Neurogen.

Reporting by M. Sai Gopal

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 1:06:45 PM |

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