Autism is a neurological developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interactions (communication), mood changes, repetitive behavior, learning disabilities, problems with memory, thinking and speech, along with metabolic, immune and digestive issues, and sleep disorders. There is also autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which is described as a range of conditions inherent in a number of neurological disorders.
Autism is assumed to be a congenital disorder, but its exact cause is still unknown. Among the presumed reasons that lead to the development of ASD are immune system dysfunction and oxidative stress. According to another report, autism is likely to be caused by neurotoxin loading into the brain due to the inflammation from gut dysbiosis. The disorder is also considered to be related to environmental and genetic factors.
Autism cannot be completely cured by conventional therapies. The conservative treatment of these pathologies includes educational interventions and medical management. More than half of children diagnosed with autism are prescribed psychoactive drugs or anticonvulsants. Conventional treatment also includes social skills training, early intensive behavioral therapy, applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy), speech therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and possibly even hormone therapy. But the fact is that the conventional drugs that are prescribed for autism, only reduce specific symptoms, targeting only one or two of them, while causing unwanted side effects that can be problematic for the child and their caregivers.
Autism treatment with stem cells and their exosomes offers an entirely new tool for parents and children to explore. The approach is based on the unique capacity of stem cells to positively influence the immune system and metabolism, and their ability to restore damaged cells and tissues. This treatment favorably affects every organ and system of the body, including the brain. In this article, we will explain how this works and what the outcomes are of stem cell and exosome therapy in autism.
Get a free online consultation with our medical advisor to find out if stem cells and their exosomes could work for you.
What do we mean by treating autism spectrum disorder (ASDs)?
Autism and stem cell therapy is a controversial topic among parents of autistic children, and adults with autism. This may also include the rather high stem cell therapy for autism cost. And this needs to be explained. When we refer to treating autism spectrum disorder, we mean providing specialist medical support for children to:
- Reduce some of the symptoms and have a positive impact on the child’s life.
- Contribute to the development of skills that allow a child to acquire additional abilities to be self-reliant and care for themself.
- Assist in the development of communication skills, in particular empathy, so that the child can express their feelings and needs more confidently, establish emotional connections and socialize.
- Reduce or eliminate the physiological features of children on the autism spectrum, such as digestive difficulties, infection susceptibility and allergies.
- Avoid using painful or potentially harmful methods and procedures.
In this context, we do not consider autism to be a disease or abnormality, but a set of complex features that do not allow a child to reach their full potential. We believe that an individual’s characteristics should not prevent their integration into society to make their life more complete. In most cases, with stem cell and exosomes therapy, this process evolves more rapidly and successfully, which improves the quality of life for the child and their loved ones.
How can stem cells and their exosomes help in the treatment of autism?
When autism is diagnosed, it means that areas of the brain regulating memory, concentration, attention, emotions and speech development, are impaired. The main goal of therapy based on stem cells and their exosomes is to trigger brain development.
Exosomes are microvesicles produced by stem cells. Firstly, the therapeutic results they provide are reached through stimulating the differentiation and growth of neurons and suppressing inflammatory processes in brain tissues.
Stem cell research for autism demonstrates that exosomes carry the capacities of cells they were produced from. In the case of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), these include:
- Angiogenesis (formation of the new blood vessels).
- Formation of the new neuron connections by secreting neurotrophic factors.
- Improving synaptic transmission, so the reaction speed in the brain increases.
- Improving blood and oxygen supply in the brain (improved perfusion).
- Stimulating the multiplication of the cells of damaged tissue, which in the case of autism results in white matter restoration, which leads to the subsidence of neurological symptoms and improved intellectual capacity.
- Producing anti-inflammatory cytokines, special protein molecules involved in modulating the immune system, which is beneficial since autism is usually accompanied by a lower immune system.
The scientific basis of autism treatment with stem cells and their exosomes – clinical trials
Several studies have been conducted to explore the safety and efficacy of cell-based products in the management of autism. Improvements have been recorded in the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale, and Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) in children treated with stem cells when compared to the control group.
In particular, there were improvements in:
- Social relationships and reciprocity (improved eye contact, social smile and reaching out to others).
- Cognitive aspects (attention, concentration and response time).
- Speech and language patterns (reduced echolalic speech, engaged in regular use of language, improved ability to initiate or sustain conversation and reduced speech regression).
At the same time, after stem cell treatment, the frequency of undesirable reactions decreased (inappropriate emotional responses, engaging in self-stimulating emotions, and excessive and unwarranted agitation or excitement for no apparent reason).
Clinical and statistical data are further confirmed by the results of instrumental studies before and after cell therapy. They have shown that the introduction of stem cells improves metabolism in hypometabolic areas in the brain. This is likely due to improved oxygenation, blood flow and the improved functioning of the neurons.
In animal models, stem cell research for autism reports that exosomes derived from mesenchymal stem cells demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects on microglia in perinatal brain injury. Exosomes are also known to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) bi-directionally. Other studies showed that exosomes exhibit immune-modulatory properties. This means that patients with chronic inflammation, autoimmune and chronic degenerative diseases may benefit from including exosomes in their treatment.
What are the expected results?
Based on the experience of the Swiss Medica clinical practice, we identified these improvements in autism after therapy based on stem cells and exosomes derived from adult (non-fetal and non-embryonic) mesenchymal stem cells:
- Deeper contact with the child, as they are more likely to begin fixing their gaze or maintain eye contact.
- More appropriate behavior at home and outside (less hyperactivity and aggression, fewer obsessions, repetitive behavior, or compulsive motor mannerisms, improved listening, especially to parents’ instructions, rules and requests).
- Improved verbal communication skills (if the child is non-verbal, he or she is very likely to start exploring sounds, syllables, and then pronounce words, and an increased vocabulary in verbal children).
- Improved learning ability through increased attention span and concentration. Their writing skills develop or improve.
- Improved self-care and more likely to communicate their needs and complete hygiene routines autonomously and reliably.
- Reduced anxiety with less or no fear of loud noises, strangers and bright colours (gradual improvement). Fear of unfamiliar people and places is also often reduced or relieved.
- Better tolerance of food, generally, and improved digestion.
- Improved sleep patterns.
For more information, get a free online consultation on the expected results of stem cell treatment and exosomes therapy for your case, what the treatment involves, the cost and duration.
Patient outcomes and testimonials of autism treatment with stem cells (videos)
More than 200 children diagnosed with autism were treated at our clinics in Moscow and Belgrade where stem cell treatment for this disorder is performed. Here are some testimonials and videos of the therapy.
1. “Since we had stem cell treatment it has been a nine-month. It’s unbelievable how our life has changed”:
2. “In spite everybody says there is no cure for autism, we always considered doing as much as we can in order to help him to have a better life”:
More examples of stem cell treatment for autism patients in Swiss Medica clinics can be watched on our YouTube channel.
Swiss Medica’s success rate for patients with autism treated with stem cells and exosomes
Swiss Medica considers 70-80% of autistic patient outcomes a success. We deem a patient’s therapy successful if it resulted in the improvement of any symptoms, regardless of how modest or profound the improvement is. Actual results for an application of therapy, range from the mild relief of one symptom to a complete transformation of the autistic patient’s quality of life.
These rates are based on the Swiss Medica clinic’s findings in Moscow and Belgrade during patient evaluations and follow-ups.
Autism and stem cells: an interview with doctors of Swiss Medica
To learn more, watch this interview with specialists in regenerative medicine at the Swiss Medica XXI, Moscow branch. They talk about the safety and efficacy of using cell-based products to manage the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This video covers:
- The potential positive results of stem cell therapy for autism.
- The success rate of the therapy.
- What the treatment involves.
- Clinical cases and success stories of treatment at Swiss Medica XXI.
- Safety and precautions of stem cell therapy.
What are the different types of stem cells for autism treatment?
Since patients with autism are most often children, their own (autologous) stem cells are not used. We use a combination of allogeneic (donor) multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells from two sources, donated placenta and umbilical cord, to produce:
- stem cell-based product;
- exosomes-based cell-free drug.
This combination of sources offers a large number of high-quality stem cells without requiring an invasive procedure to collect them, such as a bone marrow biopsy or liposuction. Stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta offer strong potential therapeutic properties which are further described in the article sponsored by the National Institute of Health. Cord blood treatment for autism is one of the most popular options in regenerative centers all over the world.
All cell and cell-free products used at Swiss Medica are prepared in our own laboratory and tested for sterility and a sufficient number of viable cells.
What is the procedure of stem cell treatment and exosome therapy for autism?
Stem cell therapy is a biological medicine. As in the case of common drugs, a certain dosage and frequency of administration is assumed, and a treatment protocol is developed and followed.
For patients with autism, treatment is carried out in several stages.
At this stage, online consultations with doctors and medical advisors take place. The state of health of a patient with autism is assessed and an individual treatment program is developed. We send the vials with intranasal drops containing stem cell exosomes and instructions, to the patient’s caregiver to apply. This will help increase the effects of the inpatient treatment. This also shows how the patient responds to stem cell exosomes treatment, and allows us to predict whether the therapy will be helpful.
2. Treatment at the Clinic
The patient will undergo several procedures to introduce stem cell exosomes:
- intravenously (through IV drip, every second day)
- inhalations (daily)
- intrathecal (optional)
Depending on the patient’s condition and the parent’s wishes, it is possible to use sedation to perform some procedures to help reduce stress in a patient.
Complementary therapies for patients with autism include Intracellular metabolism recovery (IMR) therapy, speech therapy, etc.
The patient will stay with his or her parents, either at the Clinic in an individual room or in a hotel near the facility.
When patients leave the Clinic, they receive an exosomes-based home treatment for the post-discharge period. This involves instillation into the nose or inhalation through a nebulizer. This helps to prolong and enhance the effects of the therapy carried out at the Clinic.
4. The results
Continued exposure of stem cells and their exosomes to the body has a beneficial effect on the patient’s condition. The first results can already be seen during treatment. In people with autism, this may include:
- Increasing the number of words in a sentence.
- Developing the ability to pronounce their needs and desires.
- Improved ability to interact socially.
- Improved learning ability.
- Developing new self-care skills.
We also observe improved digestion, a reduction or complete elimination of seizures, the cessation of aggression, and much more.
Age, autism and stem cell exosomes-based therapy
Treatment of autism with stem cells and exosomes-based products at the Clinics is available for children 3.5 years and older. The treatment also requires a minimum bodyweight of 18kg (40lbs).
Adult patients with autism may also seek this kind of therapy, but the likelihood of success reduces as the patient ages, compared to younger patients.
When do we expect to see the improvements?
Typically, symptoms noticeably decrease 6-8 weeks after the treatment. Some symptoms may show signs of improvement much earlier, even in less than one week.
Most frequently, the reported developments are related to social interaction and communication skills. These social improvements appear to be permanent as they show no signs of regression long after treatment.
How safe is stem cell and exosome therapy for autism? Are there any potential side effects?
Treatment based on exosomes is a cell-free therapy, unlike the placenta or cord blood treatment for autism. Studies have shown that exosomes obtained from mesenchymal stem cells avoid the risks associated with cell transplantation, while having the same therapeutic effects as MSCs. Exosomes are also known to be ignored by the immune system.
As for mesenchymal stem cells, they have been repeatedly explored in various studies with ASD patients. In particular, this meta-analysis of five stem cell therapy studies has shown that with a standardized treatment protocol, MSCs can be safe and effective for improving autism symptoms.
The most common side effect is a slight increase in temperature (short-term fever), trembling, and sweating. These reactions may appear between 15 minutes and 3 hours after stem cells or exosomes introduction. These side effects are rare (less than 5% of patients), and usually go away on their own without lasting consequences.
A slight increase in hyperactivity in the first three months can also be observed in some patients. This behavior usually subsides within six months and does not interfere with the overall improvement. It is believed to be caused by the improved blood and oxygen flow to the brain, the increased rate of the formation of neural connections, and the increased synaptic activity of previously less-used parts of the brain.
Q&A video about stem cell therapy for autism
This video includes a Q&A session where we talk about the therapeutic potential of stem cells for the treatment of autism. Dr. Alexandra, a specialist in regenerative medicine, answers the most frequently asked questions on this topic. Watch the video to learn:
- What improvements can be achieved with cell-based therapy, including real clinical cases.
- What the most promising source of stem cells is for autism therapy and how do they work.
- What treatment includes and how the procedure is performed.
- Plus many more.
The specialists at the clinic carefully examine each patient and their medical history to make an informed decision on the likelihood of positive changes from stem cell exosomes therapy, and the stem cell therapy for autism cost. We do not offer or provide treatment to patients whose health condition indicates a low probability of a successful treatment outcome. To get advice from our Medical Advisor, contact us through the website or request a callback to learn more about autism treatment with stem cells and their exosomes.
Get a free online consultation to learn more about the expected results for your personal case, the cost and duration of the therapy, and how to enter the treatment program.
List of References
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Stem cell therapy in autism: recent insights. Dario Siniscalco, Suresh Kannan, Neomar Semprún-Hernández, Adrien A Eshraghi, Anna Lisa Brigida, and Nicola Antonucci. Stem Cells Cloning. 2018; 11: 55–67.
Neurotrophic and neuroprotective potential of human limbus-derived mesenchymal stromal cells. Liang C.M., Weng S.J., Tsai T.H., Li I.H., Lu P.H., Ma K.H., Tai M.C., Chen J.T., Cheng C.Y., Huang Y.S. Cytotherapy. 2014 Oct;16(10):1371-83.
Proangiogenic Compositions of Microvesicles Derived from Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Jianying Chen, Zhenjun Liu, Mian Ming Hong, Hongzhe Zhang, Can Chen, Mengyuan Xiao, Junxian Wang, Feng Yao, Mingchuan Ba, Jinghu Liu, Zi-Kuan Guo, and Jixin Zhong. PLoS One. 2014; 9(12): e115316.
White Matter Tract Changes Associated with Clinical Improvement in an Open-Label Trial Assessing Autologous Umbilical Cord Blood for Treatment of Young Children with Autism. Carpenter K.L.H , Major S., Tallman C., Chen L.W., Franz L., Sun J., Kurtzberg J., Song A., Dawson G. Stem Cells Translational Medicine. 2019 Feb;8(2):138-147.
Toward Development of Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Immunomodulatory Therapy. Samantha F. H. de Witte, Marcella Franquesa, Carla C. Baan, and Martin J. Hoogduijn. Frontiers in Immunology. 2015; 6: 648.
Transplantation of human cord blood mononuclear cells and umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells in autism. Yong-Tao Lv, Yun Zhang, Min Liu, Jia-na-ti Qiuwaxi, Paul Ashwood, Sungho Charles Cho, Ying Huan, Ru-Cun Ge, Xing-Wang Chen, Zhao-Jing Wang, Byung-Jo Kim, and Xiang Hu. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2013; 11: 196.
Autologous Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cell Therapy for Autism: An Open Label Proof of Concept Study. Alok Sharma, Nandini Gokulchandran, Hemangi Sane, Anjana Nagrajan, Amruta Paranjape, Pooja Kulkarni, Akshata Shetty, Priti Mishra, Mrudula Kali, Hema Biju, and Prerna Badhe. Stem Cells International. 2013; 2013: 623875.
Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells: a new era for stem cell therapy. Ding D.C., Chang Y.H., Shyu W.C., Lin S.Z. Cell Transplant. 2015;24(3):339-47.
Therapeutic Effects of Cellular Therapy in a Case of Adult Autism Spectrum of Disorder. Alok Sharma, Nandini Gokulchandran, Hemangi Sane, Pooja Kulkarni, Samson Nivins, Maitree Maheshwari, Prerna Badhe.
Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor