Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Autism and Experimental Stem Cell Treatment

Attached is part of a PR Web Press Release for a clinical trial application being submitted to Greek authorities by AdiStem Tehcnology. It indicates thatgroup of doctors in Greece are preparing a protocol for submission to the Greek Ministry of Health for an official clinical trial of stem cell treatment on children with autism spectrum disorders:

The stem cell technology developed by AdiStem for the past 5 years has been used and trialed by doctors around the world for the treatment of type II diabetes and its complications, osteoarthritis, and cosmetic medicine. Physicians in Greece approached the company recently with the intent to treat Yannis, the son of Dr. Solomos, a cardiologist. Yannis, a 9 year old boy, had been diagnosed with autism but not responded to standard treatments.

An experienced doctor, the father, Dr Solomos, carefully reviewed the case studies of other children with Autism who had received the AdiStem stem cell treatment in Europe and Asia, and was convinced of its safety and potential for improving the condition of his son. With the help of experienced pediatric surgeons Yannis underwent an hour long mini-liposuction procedure at Kratiko Nikaias Hospital in Athens in which 200cc of abdominal fat was harvested. The fat was dissolved, the stem cells isolated and then activated, and over 100 million cells were returned to Yannis through a standard intravenous drip. Yannis was discharged on the same day.

Just one month later, his father was astonished to hear Yannis talking to him on the phone for the first time. Dr. Solomos explained: "my boy has simply not been able to speak to me on the phone before". Asked if he’d noticed any other changes, he replied: "His school tells me his attention has improved. We experience him nearer to us and he feels us. I see a change in his ability to connect with other children. He plays with them now, which he used to avoid. He has also become more interested in letters and numbers". (This interview with Dr.Solomos was recorded on video and can be viewed at "www.adistem.com/application/autism.htm").

Present during the treatment, Dr. Koliakos, Associate Professor at Aristotle University and President of Hellenic Research Foundation Stem Cell Bank pointed out: "One month after the therapy Yannis has shown remarkable progress according to his father's observations. The child will be reevaluated by pediatric psychiatrists 3 months after the therapy to measure the extent of progress in his condition and to decide if the remainder of his stem cells, presently stored in liquid nitrogen, should be administered".

Dr.Kolaikos continued: "We're convinced about the safety of intravenous adipose stem cell therapy – if supported by accredited facilities – and our team has now applied for a large formal clinical trial on autism using AdiStem's stem cell protocol here in Greece".

Terry Grossman, M.D., stem cell researcher from Golden, Colorado said, "I was present to observe 9 year old Yannis undergo the stem cell procedure at the Kratiko Nikaias Hospital in Athens. Further studies are needed, but it is possible that stem cell therapy will soon be available as a powerful new tool to help children with autistic spectrum disorders."

There is much controversy surrounding most aspects of autism spectrum disorders including issues concerning treatment and research involving children.  In this case the PR Web press release states that a trial was run with a child whose father, an experienced medical doctor, consented to his participation  after reviewing case studies involving other children with autism who had received the treatment.  The father, a medical doctor, also provide his observations which indicated substantial improvement in his son's condition.  The procedure was performed by experienced pediatric surgeons and   is vouched for by a Greek professor and researcher as being safe when administered at a proper facility. In addition to the father's observations the child will be seen at follow ups by pediatric psychiatrists for further measurement of his progress and for a determination of whether to continue with the treatment.

The procedure itself was observed by an American stem cell researcher/doctor who says further study is needed but that  but it is possible that stem cell therapy will soon be available as a powerful new tool to help children with autistic spectrum disorders.  The research team involved has applied for a large formal clinical trial on autism using AdiStem's stem cell protocol.

It will be interesting to see what comes of the Adistem application and formal clinical trial results.   This father of a severely autistic 14 year old boy has insisted that my son receive only evidence based interventions and I will not depart from that principle.  But I do not close my mind to new interventions either if they are subsequently supported by a strong evidence base.  If  responsible studies  conducted safely, produce credible results and provide reliable evidence of new interventions that could help my son then I would want, in consultation with trusted professional advisers, to consider new interventions for his benefit.   
It remains to be seen whether the AdiStem trials will provide such evidence but in the meantime this father of a severely autistic son will keep an open mind on the subject. 

9 comments:

Suzanne said...

This could be very exciting. Thanks for reporting!

Ian MacGregor said...

The video looks like a commercial. Stem cells are extracted from the gut, and then injected. Wouldn't they just go back to the gut? Just like bone marrow stem cells when given to a cancer sufferer go the bone marrow? How does the treatment mitigate autism?

More details need to be provided, but as for now this looks like hooey to me. Nothing would please me more than to be wrong on this assessment.

blogzilly said...

Thanks for the article. It does sound very promising and yet I can understand your hesitation. At least it sounds like a step in the right direction research-wise.

Ian MacGregor said...

I should have included this in my original post.

http://photoninthedarkness.com/?s=stem+cell

should be read

Autism Reality NB said...

Ian

Thank you for your comments. I described stem cell treatment as experimental.

I support the concept of evidence based interventions for autism given in conjunction with professional advice as I stated in my comment.

The article in question describes a potential clinical trial which looks like it is complying with concerns for safety and vailidity.

NO intervention can become evidence based if not experiments or clinical trials are run.

HLD

Katya said...

To answer Ian's query, stem cells go where there is injury in the body. The cells know to where to because injured areas secrete chemokines which sends signals out to growth factors (or PRP) as well as stem cells already present in the blood (however there are not very stem cells in the blood). However, an injection of stem cells from the patients own fat provides a sort stem cell army, which accelerates tissue regeneration, and produces a more complete recovery. For cancer patients, the only treatment I ever heard of using stem cells is when the patient has leukaemia. However, this is a much more difficult procedure, where the immune system is wiped out, and stem cells are used to rebuild a healthier immune system (or build a new bone marrow? This is where I'm not positive). So yes, autologous stem cells can cross the blood brain barrier and heal damaged areas in the brain - as is in the case with Autism.

Katya said...

To answer Ian's query, stem cells go where there is injury in the body. The cells know to where to because injured areas secrete chemokines which sends signals out to growth factors (or PRP) as well as stem cells already present in the blood (however there are not very stem cells in the blood). However, an injection of stem cells from the patients own fat provides a sort stem cell army, which accelerates tissue regeneration, and produces a more complete recovery. For cancer patients, the only treatment I ever heard of using stem cells is when the patient has leukaemia. However, this is a much more difficult procedure, where the immune system is wiped out, and stem cells are used to rebuild a healthier immune system (or build a new bone marrow? This is where I'm not positive). So yes, autologous stem cells can cross the blood brain barrier and heal damaged areas in the brain - as is in the case with Autism.

GILBERT said...

From the Adistem website they indicate that there are some researchers in Canada studying the Adistem protocol. Do you know if there is something being done at the IWK.

Anonymous said...

We have done stem cells with our son and saw good results. Much like the child in your story. We did them in Mexico and in the Dominican Republic.