Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the chance to speak to a very large number of parents who are interested in stem cell therapy for their sons and daughters. And it has been very eye-opening for me to learn what your most important concerns about stem cell therapy are. I want to take advantage of this space that Generation Rescue has graciously offered me to elaborate on the three most common questions I received.
Remember that during the Autism Education Summit in Dallas, I will be presenting a talk about our Advanced Stem Cell Therapy and will elaborate further on these and several other points, so make sure not to miss it!
1. What are the different kinds of stem cells?
There are two large groups of human stem cells: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells, as their name implies, are derived from human embryos. These cells, in theory, have a greater potential to regenerate tissues and even full organs. Unfortunately they are also harder to direct and we don’t yet fully understand their characteristics. These are the kinds of cells that are sometimes associated with cancers and other undesirable side effects in the long term. These cells are not yet ready for therapeutic applications and are still being studied around the world.
When we use the term adult stem cells, it does not mean that they are derived from adult humans, but that the cells have matured past the embryonic stage and are now adult cells. Every child, teenager, and adult has adult stem cells. Depending on their source these adult stem cells can be further divided into two groups: autologous and allogeneic. Allogeneic refers to cells that are genetically different from the intended recipient although from members of the same species. Cord blood donor-derived stem cells obviously fall in this group. These cells have a different genetic makeup than the recipient’s cells and can be useful in patients whose problems are directly caused by a genetic defect such as ALS which was popularized last year with the ice bucket challenge. It is important to emphasize, because it is what concerns us here, that patients within the Autistic Spectrum may have certain mutations, yet these mutations are not directly the cause of their ASD diagnosis. Keep this information in mind.
Lastly, by autologous stem cells we refer to stem cells produced by the same recipient. Common sources of autologous stem cells are bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue, teeth and even peripheral blood, among others. These cells make up for each person’s own repair mechanism; they are already “programmed” to respond to each patient’s own growth factors and cytokines (specialized molecules which direct cells). For these obvious reasons, autologous stem cells are the safest kind of stem cells we know. These are also the cells we use at World Stem Cells Clinic for our Advanced Stem Cell Therapy for Autism.
And just to solidify this point: let’s say you stored your first-born’s cord blood-derived stem cells at birth. If those cells were used in the future by that same child, we would refer to them as autologous. If they were used by his little brother or sister (or a complete stranger) we would be talking about allogeneic.
2. How does stem cell therapy compare to other treatments for autism such as IVIG, HBOT, etc.?
It doesn’t. As I wrote on my last post here, stem cell therapy is not designed to be a substitute for any other medically-supervised, scientifically-proven treatment methods. It is an additional weapon in our arsenal which addresses autism’s complex pathophysiology from a different angle.
The main way stem cell therapy works in autism is by reaching the central nervous system and thus restoring neuronal plasticity which is the brain’s ability to create new neuronal connections allowing patients to learn new things and behaviors.
Which brings me to the third most commonly heard question regarding our Advanced Stem Cell Therapy for Autism:
3. Why does your therapy involve intrathecal (through a lumbar puncture) infusion IN ADDITION to the IV infusions?
Unfortunately, this question is so pervasive in the ASD community that I even went ahead a few weeks ago and recorded the video you see below for our patient coordinators to share with parents who asked this question.
In this video Dr. Gutierrez quickly explains the need for lumbar puncture and intrathecal infusions when treating patients with Autism.
Posted by World Stem Cells Clinic on Wednesday, July 22, 2015
I hope you have found this post useful and informative. Remember that I will be addressing these and more questions during the Autism Education Summit. Also, make sure you stop by our booth; I’d love to meet you personally!