Stem cells are seen here on a computer screen. Duke University researchers used autistic children’s own umbilical cord stem cells in a study on possible treatments for autism symptoms and came up with promising results. 
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Possible autism breakthrough using children’s own stem cells 

Duke University researchers have seen promising results in a study using autistic children’s own umbilical cord stem cells to treat symptoms of autism.

Previous research has shown that cord blood cells can help reduce inflammation and signal cells to help repair damaged areas of the brain, according to Duke scientists.

“This study is investigating whether similar success will be shown in children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder),” the university said in a news release at the start of the yearlong study, which included 25 boys and girls from ages 2 to 6 years old with ASD. 

A majority of the children in the study, 70 percent, showed impressive improvements in autism symptoms and behaviors after a transfusion of their own umbilical cord blood, CNN reported.

The results of the clinical trial were published this week in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

A second, larger study is now underway in hopes of finding a treatment for autistic children.

An estimated one in every 68 school-age children has autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no treatment available for ASD, and symptoms can range from mild social issues to more serious and debilitating behavioral problems.

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