Hope For An Autism Cure After ‘Very Encouraging’ Stem Cell Treatment Success

Drew HaysUnsplash

People are cheering the news of a major success in the search for a cure for autism that hit the news this week. According to The Daily Mail, a stem-cell treatment has helped a severely autistic boy speak his first words.

Danny Bullen is an eleven-year-old who suffers from autism so severe that it leaves him nonverbal. He cannot use the toilet without assistance, and is required to attend a special needs school.

His parents — Irma Guanche and Lee Bullen — learned about the promise of stem-cell therapy, and immediately hoped it could help their son. The parents created a fundraising page to help cover not only the treatment, but also the necessary travel from their island home of Tenerife, Spain, to Miami — where the treatment was offered. That fundraiser earned over $11,000.

Danny’s father has already given rave reviews to the treatment.

“[Danny] had his first treatment in March and the early signs are very encouraging. He is more alert and has already started to use a few new basic words and greetings.”

According to Danny’s mother, the most heartening result was that her previously nonverbal son uttered his first full sentence.

“Dame mas papas, por favor,” the youngster requested, which translates roughly to “give me more potato chips, please.”

Though he has not spoken another full sentence since, the parents say that they were told the process would be slow, and that it would take months for more change to become apparent.

However, the couple are so optimistic that Lee Bullen has already spoken of plans for another bout of treatment.

“Undergoing stem cell therapy over two or three visits usually brings better results, which is why we hope to take Danny to the U.S. at least twice.”

He and his wife have created a second fund-raising page to once again help defray the costs.

According to Autism Speaks, the CDC determined that one in 37 boys, and one in 151 girls, are afflicted with the disease. An estimated one-third of children with ASD are nonverbal, like Danny, and 31 percent also have an intellectual disability.

Advocates of the treatment have claimed that the stem-cell therapy causes “all autism symptoms to completely disappear.”

Though the research is far from conclusive, it is promising. An April of 2017 Duke University study followed 25 autistic children between the ages of 2 and 5 who were given an IV infusion of their own umbilical cord blood. As a result, more than two-thirds showed “improvements in their speech, ability to socialize, and eye contact.”

However, the study’s main purpose was to confirm the safety of procedure. Because it was less focused on the results, there was no placebo group.