Israel21c reports that Israeli scientists have succeeded in using stem cells to revere learning deficits in the offspring of pregnant mice who were exposed to heroin and the pesticide organophosphate. The article by Israel21c staff speculates that the findings could ultimately lead to significant breakthroughs in treating learning disorders.
Researchers, including Prof. Joseph Yanai and Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and Prof. Ted Slotkin at Duke University in North Carolina, used direct neural stem cell transportation into the brains of the affected mice offspring with marked results:
The recovery was almost 100 percent, as proved in behavioral tests in which the treated animals improved to normal behavior and learning scores after the transplantation. On the molecular level, brain chemistry of the treated animals was also restored to normal. ...... The scientists found that before they die the neural stem cells succeed in inducing the host brain to produce large numbers of stem cells which repair the damage. These findings, which answered a major question in the stem cell research community, were published earlier this year in the leading journal, Molecular Psychiatry.The abstract for the article can be viewed, and the article purchased at Molecular Psychiatry. The citation for the article is Molecular Psychiatry (2008) 13, 222–231; doi:10.1038/sj.mp.4002084; published online 18 September 2007.
Neither the Israel21c article nor the study abstract mention autism disorders specifically but they do refer to potential stem cell treatment generally of neural and behavioral birth defects and disorders.