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New Delhi: Stem cell therapy is not recommended as a treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), an expert committee appointed by the National Medical Commission (NMC) has ruled. The committee has also said use of stem cells in ASD, its promotion and advertisement will be considered professional misconduct.

ASD belongs to a group of disorders called neurodeve lopmental disorders, which are characterised by delay or disturbance in the acquisition of skills in a variety of developmental domains, including motor, social, lan guage and intellectual development.

Because there is no established cure for the disorder, people often opt for experimental therapies such as injecting stem cells – human cells that have the ability to develop into many different cell types.

Proponents of stem cell therapy for ASD claim that this treatment helps in of fering neural cell protection by enhancing neural tissue repair and preventing ongoing neuronal damage, thereby reducing the severity of autistic symptoms. The NMC, in its recommendation, says there have been numerous case reports, case series, and uncontrolled open label studies dealing with the subject but very few well-designed double-blind randomised controlled studies (RCT’S) have been conducted.”

In general, the quality of research in this area has been poor. The largest and a well-designed double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study of SCT in ASD was by Geraldine Dawson and her co-workers in 2020.

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