The Delhi High Court has allowed two children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to continue receiving stem cell therapy, even though the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the National Medical Commission (NMC) advised against it. This court ruling addresses the immediate situation but also raises questions about the potential benefits and risks of using stem cell therapy for ASD.
Stem cells, which have the ability to regenerate, show promise in medicine, but their use is still experimental. While some experts believe that stem cell therapy might help regulate the immune system and neural connections in cases of ASD, the EMRB’s recommendation points out the lack of sufficient evidence and established guidelines. The court’s decision doesn’t endorse stem cell therapy for ASD in general but suggests that the NMC should further evaluate the matter.
What Prompted the Delhi High Court’s Decision on Stem Cell Therapy in ASD Cases?
The Delhi High Court’s decision to allow stem cell therapy in ASD cases was influenced by a petition from parents of two children with ASD. They contested the EMRB’s recommendation against stem cell therapy, citing ongoing treatment and the lack of conclusive evidence against its effectiveness.
What Are Stem Cells and Their Relevance to Medical Treatment?
Stem cells are versatile cells capable of becoming various specialized cell types. Their regenerative properties make them valuable for treating diseases and conditions. Stem cell treatments, part of regenerative medicine, have been used for conditions such as leukemia through hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Why Is Stem Cell Therapy Being Considered for ASD Treatment?
Stem cell therapy is being explored for ASD treatment because some experts believe it has the potential to regulate immune systems and neural connectivity in ASD cases. However, it remains experimental and is not yet a standard ASD treatment due to mixed clinical trial results, limited data, and potential risks.
The basis for the EMRB’s Recommendation Against Stem Cell Therapy for ASD
The EMRB advised against stem cell therapy due to insufficient evidence, potential risks and side effects, and concerns about “predatory marketing” that raised false hopes among parents regarding “curing” ASD. They stressed the importance of established protocols.
Current Treatments Available for ASD
There is no known cure for ASD, and current treatments focus on symptom management and improving functionality. Available treatments include social skills training, behavior therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychotropic drugs, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.
The High Court’s Ruling on Stem Cell Therapy for ASD
The Delhi High Court’s ruling allows the continuation of stem cell therapy for the two children with ASD. It’s important to note that the court’s decision does not universally endorse stem cell therapy for ASD treatment but rather permits ongoing treatment in these specific cases while acknowledging the NMC’s authority to further evaluate the matter.