Duke cord blood study targets autism

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 04:01 PM

Doctors have used umbilical cord blood stem cells to treat diseases ranging from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, thalassemia major and sickle cell.

Now a partnership between ViaCord and Duke University Medical Center hopes to learn whether an infusion of cord blood cells can treat children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The single-site Phase I safety study includes 20 children who are 2 to 6 years old and diagnosed with ASD. Participants also must have adequate amounts of their own umbilical cord blood banked for usage in the program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1 in 68 children in the United States has ASD, up 30 percent from two years ago.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Duke University Medical Center by sponsoring this important study to determine the safety of cord blood for potentially treating this prevalent disorder facing children worldwide,” said Morey Kraus, ViaCord’s chief scientific officer.

It’s a critical first step, said Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg at Duke.

“We hope to learn whether cord blood infusions are safe and to define the best tests to use to study the effects of cord blood in future studies,” she said.

Duke’s also using cord blood for a cerebral palsy clinical trial.

ViaCord is a subsidiary of PerkinElmer, Inc., a company with reported $2.2 billion in revenue in 2013 and 7,600 employees in 150 countries.

Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.