Treatments & Research

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Autism and Cord Blood

What is Autism?

Autism is a disorder that affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills and appears in the first 3 years of life.103 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of disorders characterized by “persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.”

Although the exact causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder are still unknown, research suggests that both genes and environment play important roles.102


In the News: Autism and Cord Blood [Video Courtesy of CNN]

Cord Blood’s Role in Autism Research

The special properties of cord blood stem cells

Properties of cord blood stem cells may address multiple causes of degeneration and dysfunction associated with ASD. Properties include the ability to: 

  Rebuild - Neural pathway remodeling, neuroprotective.120

•  Support Endogenous Repair - Increased perfusion, neovascularization.121

•  Modulate Environment - Immune modulation, anti-inflammatory. 122



Phase I Clinical Trial Results Released

In 2017, results from a Phase I Clinical Safety Trial infusing a child’s own cord blood stem cells in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine. The result can be read here:  Autologous Cord Blood Infusions Are Safe and Feasible in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

ViaCord, along with our parent company PerkinElmer, proudly provided support for this novel research which has now progressed into a Phase II Clinical Trial.


New Study Insights: Phase I Clinical Trial

Since results from the Phase I Autism & Cord Blood Clinical Trial were first released in 2017, there have been new study insights that show cord blood infusions may have contributed to certain clinical improvements in children with Autism. Researchers looked at two areas: electrophysiological biomarkers and white matter. 


Electroencephalography (EEG)

EEG measures electrical activity in the brain over a certain period of time. This information can give researchers a better understanding of changes that happen in the brain after cord blood therapy. This information can also help to identify which children respond best to treatment.

Lightening Bolt - Autism 75x75

The purpose of the study was to determine if EEG measures changed after cord blood treatment and showed improvement when compared to a baseline EEG. Results showed that changes in EEG patterns after treatment more closely resembled those of children without ASD. These findings suggest cord blood may have contributed to electrical changes in the brain.

Read the full findings published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine Journals - Electrophysiological Biomarkers Predict Clinical Improvement in an Open-Label Trial Assessing Efficacy of Autologous Umbilical Cord Blood for Treatment of Autism


White matter

White matter is brain tissue made up of nerve fibers responsible for the connection and transmission of signals. When this function is abnormal, it indicates deficiencies in brain function and behavior. These deficiencies are associated with symptoms in individuals with ASD and the severity of it.

Brain 75X75

The purpose of the study was to determine if improvements in behavior were associated with white matter connectivity. Results showed that after children with ASD received a cord blood infusion, improvements in communication and reduced symptoms were associated with increased activity in brain networks.

Read the full findings published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine Journals - 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


Phase II Clinical Trial Underway

The goal of Duke University Medical Center's Phase II Clinical Trial is to determine if there is a benefit from an intravenous infusion of autologous (the child’s own) cord blood or unrelated donor cord blood in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Duke University Medical Center is currently analyzing data from the Phase II research trial and not actively recruiting participants at this time. For more details visit clinicaltrials.gov or email cordbloodtherapyinfo@dm.duke.edu for more info.


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