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Source: The post is based on the article “Court allows stem cell therapy for two autistic kids: What is this treatment? Can it be used to treat autism?” published in Indian Express on 2nd September 2023
What is the News?
The Delhi High Court has permitted two children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to undergo stem cell therapy for treatment of their condition.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are a unique type of cell in the human body that have the remarkable ability to develop into many different cell types with specific functions.
They are characterized by two key properties:
Self-renewal: Stem cells can divide and make exact copies of themselves. This ability allows them to maintain a constant population of stem cells in the body.
Differentiation: Stem cells can also differentiate into specialized cell types with distinct functions. For example, they can become blood cells, nerve cells, muscle cells, or any other type of cell found in the body.
What are the different types of Stem Cells?
Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs): These stem cells are derived from embryos, typically at the blastocyst stage (a very early stage of embryonic development). Embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell in the body and are considered pluripotent.
Adult Stem Cells: These stem cells are found in various tissues and organs throughout the body. They play a role in tissue maintenance, repair, and regeneration.
– Adult stem cells are typically multipotent, meaning they can differentiate into a limited range of cell types specific to the tissue or organ where they are located.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs): iPSCs are adult cells that have been reprogrammed to return to a pluripotent state similar to embryonic stem cells.This reprogramming is usually achieved through genetic manipulation.
How are stem cells used in medicine?
For several years, stem cells that are used to treat disease are hematopoietic stem cells.These are the blood cell-forming adult stem cells found in bone marrow.
These cells help people with cancer make new blood cells after their own hematopoietic stem cells have been killed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
What is autism spectrum disorder(ASD)?
Can stem cell treatment be used for ASD?
Autism spectrum disorder(ASD) has potential to be a good candidate for stem cell therapy because evidence exists that some types of stem cells, given intravenously, can improve the overall regulation of the immune system and the neural connectivity in the brain.
However, stem cell therapy is not typically used for treating ASD yet as initial clinical trials have shown mixed results.
Currently, the treatment is very much in an experimental stage and there is simply not enough data to make definitive claims.