Ethics & Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the National Medical Commission had constituted a committee of experts to examine the issues related to prescription. recommendation on administration of Stem Cell Treatment (SCT) for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The recommendations of the Committee were published on 6th December, 2022.
The report examines the following in detail:
1. Current understanding of ASD
2. Stem cells in health and SCT research in ASD
3. Well-established clinical uses of SCT
4. A critical appraisal and recommendations of SCT in ASD
ASD is a chronic condition with onset in early childhood, with core symptoms that often persist throughout the lifespan. However, its manifestations and severity may vary from person to person, and with age. Diagnosis is based on meticulous history, careful clinical evaluation by an expert supplemented by standardised checklists, rating scales and interviews. There is no “specific test” or physical investigation to diagnose ASD. Early diagnosis is imperative for developing an early intervention strategy in ASD.
Stem cells have been extensively treating human disease for many years. The most widespread, well– established and internationally accepted form of stem cell therapy is Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation (HSCT), and the commonest indications are blood cancers and haematological disorders.
In addition, there are more than 900 clinical trials using Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in different diseases such as neurological and cardiac disorders. However, no clear internationally accepted clinical indication has emerged so far.
Based on its detailed analysis the Committee puts forth the following recommendations:
- Current Status: Stem cell therapy is not recommended as a treatment for ASD in clinical practice.
- ln view of the above recommendation, use of Stem cell in ASD, its promotion and advertisement will be considered as professional misconduct.
- Further research needs to be conducted and encouraged in terms of well-designed double-blind Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) to explore the safety and efficacy of Stem Cell Therapy in ASD.
These recommendations will be updated periodically.