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article imageCan stem cells be used to treat autism?

By Tim Sandle     Jul 19, 2014 in Science
Duke University is launching a $41 million stem-cell trial to explore the use of umbilical cord blood cells to treat autism, stroke, cerebral palsy, and related brain disorders.
According to a research note from Duke University, a small, preliminary study involving 20 children is already underway. However, the study is not supported by everyone within the scientific community.
Arnold Kriegstein, director of the Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, San Francisco, in conversation with the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, has said: "I think it would be marvelous if this trial worked, but it really seems more like a ‘Hail Mary pass’ than a rational therapy."
Some scientists are skeptical because autism is an umbrella term for a variety of disorders, and its precise causes remains unknown.
The Duke University study is based on research that shows cord blood cells can reduce the signs of brain damage in children with "hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy" (a term to describe reduced supply of oxygen to the brain), and stimulate neural connectivity in animal models.
More about Stem cells, Autism, Treatment, cord cells
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