Research Updates

Cord Blood and Autism: What does the future hold?

Image_family2Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, at Duke University in North Carolina, is a leader in the cord blood field for both transplantation and regenerative medicine. She’s currently investigating the utility of cord blood in a variety of pediatric conditions associated with brain disorders, including cerebral palsy, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, and hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Autism can now be added to this list, as Kurtzberg has initiated a trial to investigate the safety of a single intravenous infusion of autologous (self) cord blood into children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a neurodevelopment disorder with early onset that results in a specific set of behavioural and developmental abnormalities. Currently, treatments for patients with ASD are supportive; there is no cure for ASD.

In the clinical trial being conducted at Duke, 20 patients will be infused with their own banked cord blood and assessed by a variety of tests at 6 and 12 months. This trial was initiated in the summer of 2014 and quickly enrolled the required patients. Data from this trial will be used to design a future Phase 2 clinical trial. It’s anticipated that families wishing to participate in such a trial will have the opportunity during the Phase 2 trial.

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