Stem cells are the building blocks of our different tissues and organs. All of us have stem cells which go around our body repairing all the wear and tear which happens with everyday life at a cellular level.
What makes stem cells unique is their capacity to differentiate into different cellular populations. Whenever I explain this to parents or even to my first-year medical students, the example I normally use is the following: imagine a child at elementary school level. This child will grow up and become whatever she decides to be, right? Well, it’s the same with stem cells. While a child might receive stimuli from her parents, family and personal interests and decide to go into business, law, medicine or any other career she chooses, stem cells also receive different cellular stimuli in order to become either muscle, cartilage, blood vessels, or nerve cells.
This is a process which happens every single day in our bodies. Whenever your respiratory tract gets even slightly damaged from something you inhaled, stem cells are recruited to come and repair the damaged tissue. Same thing happens in your digestive tract, in your blood vessels, your muscles, your bones, and almost everywhere. Except? The brain and the rest of the nervous system.
There is something called the blood-brain barrier which prevents most of what is circulating in the blood to have access to the brain tissue. This is actually a good thing since it protects us from several substances which would be toxic for the brain. Unfortunately, it also prevents access to stem cells. For this reason certain conditions which damage the brain had been considered irreversible.
Today, thanks to advances in medical science, we have developed ways of safely harvesting the patient’s own stem cells and infusing them directly into the cerebrospinal fluid where they will bathe the brain and the rest of the central nervous system, finding the damaged tissue and getting to work repairing it.
There are a lot of debates in the scientific community regarding the cause for autism. There seems to be a constant struggle between proponents of one theory versus detractors. However, what matters most to me and the rest of us who work with ASD patients is finding a way to make these patients more functioning. Help them become integrated with their families, their peers and the rest of society.
What stem cell therapy achieves in this respect goes beyond what traditional therapies have achieved in the past. Which is not to say that it is a replacement for biochemical approaches, ABA therapy, and so on. Because it isn’t; it’s simply an additional weapon in our arsenal. However, with stem cell therapy, we are able to promote the creation of new neuronal pathways in the patient’s brain which means an increased neuronal plasticity and the ability to better learn new things and –most importantly– new behaviors.
Over the past 4 years at World Stem Cells Clinic we have been actively working to improve our Advanced Stem Cell Therapy for Autism. We have made it so that it not only consists of the stem cell harvesting and infusion but of a series of added steps which have greatly improved the yield and success of our overall therapy. Our patients consistently reach their next developmental milestones after stem cell therapy whether it is becoming potty trained, verbalizing, stop repetitive behaviors such as stimming and flapping, etcetera.
Join me during the Autism Education Summit 2015 in Dallas for a more in-depth look at what stem cell therapy is, how it can benefit your child and answers to the most common questions and concerns.
Dr. Ernesto Gutierrez, M.D.