Stem Cell “therapy” for autism: a warning

30 May

A recent news article focused on autism researchers who are also autism parents. One of the researchers in Autism scientists search for help, for their own kids’ sakes is Ricardo Dolmetsch, whose work on stem cells and autism was one of the highlights of IMFAR 2011 and was a focus of NIMH director Tom Insel.

He knows autism. He knows stem cells. And he has a very clear statement to offer on those offering stem cell “therapies”:

Dolmetsch says he also tries to answer questions from other parents who write to him for advice. Because there are so few effective treatments for autism, many parents turn to alternative therapies. In many cases, however, those therapies are ineffective, a waste of money or, even worse, dangerous, Dolmetsch says.

Recently, he has gotten a lot of e-mails from parents looking to go abroad for mysterious “stem cell therapies,” he says, including treatments in which practitioners offer treatments made with stem cells derived from fat, at a cost of up to $30,000.

“There are a lot of hucksters,” Dolmetsch says. “They’re springing up everywhere. … In the best case, it’s fraud, because they will put the cells in your body and they will be attacked by the immune system and die. In the worst case, they will cause something terrible, like cancer. … This has to be fraud, because we are not about to put stem cells in anybody’s brain. People are super-desperate. I’m just as desperate as they are.”

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3 Responses to “Stem Cell “therapy” for autism: a warning”

  1. David A December 7, 2012 at 00:12 #

    Unfortunately there are always “hucksters” whenever there’s an “ailment” that people want to cure…it’s the unfortunate intersection of greed and pseudo-medicine.

    ABA Therapy has had some promise, not necessarily as a treatment for Autism but as an early intervention technique that helps kids to recover language abilities, and helping with behavioral and other social skills. In San Diego where I live, there are lots of programs that offer it and insurance covers it as a treatment for Autism.

    Thanks for the article!

  2. CellTherapy Uctc December 3, 2013 at 20:58 #

    Interesting video about the treatment of autistic boy in uctc. Online http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoC4gKO5Qr0

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) December 4, 2013 at 03:46 #

      Great. Faux stem cell clinic spam.

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