Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Dr. Chun Wong
Last week, I wrote about how some scientists believe that stem cells can treat autism because they believe that autism is characterized by hypoperfusion (a reduction in the oxygen supply to the brain) and immune dysregulation. Scientists like Dr Leonard Smith believe that stem cells can increase blood flow, and therefore oxygen, to the brain and also treat inflammation in the gut. This sounds like great news but can stem cell treatment really “cure” autism?
Well, the simple answer is that it depends what you think is the cause of autism and autism symptoms. If you are of the opinion that autism is caused by a birth injury, a lack of oxygen at birth, then you will believe that stem cell treatment can be beneficial. However, if you believe, as I do, that there are many factors involved in causing autism and exacerbating symptoms, then you cannot believe that stem cell treatment is going to effectively “cure” autism, although it may offer short-term relief and recovery.
Environmental factors that may be involved in causing autism include:-
- Heavy metal exposure - Heavy metals in our environment include mercury, cadmium, manganese and lead.
- Pollutants - Chemicals like phenol, PCBs, dioxins, nicotine etc.
- Vaccines - The MMR vaccine, vaccines containing thimerosal and our program of childhood vaccines.
- Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies - Vitamin A, B and D deficiencies, deficiencies in essential nutrients like amino acids, Essential Fatty Acids and minerals.
- Food intolerances - Foods like gluten and casein causing gut inflammation or causing the production of peptides which acts as opiates on the brain.
- Candida Yeast - An overgrowth of candida yeast in the gut.
How can stem cell treatment possibly combat any of these factors?
Stem cell treament can have a short-term effect - reducing inflammation, replacing previously damaged cells, helping the immune system etc. - but if we do not combat the environmental factors that are damaging our children’s bodies the autism will once again rear its ugly head when the new cells become affected and damaged.
Dr Mark Noble, a professor of biomedical genetics and neurobiology at the University of Rochester, has been carrying out research into stem cells and the effect of environmental toxicants on these cells. In one study, Noble and his research team subjected glial progenitor stem cells in the brain to low levels of the heavy metals lead and mercury. When these stem cells were exposed to these low levels, which have previously been thought to be safe for humans, Noble and his team found that these brain cells shut down, showing that they are incredibly vulenrable to even low levels of environmental toxicants. This study shows that not only are our children’s brain cells vulnerable to damage from heavy metals and other toxins, stem cells introduced into the body during stem cell treatment will be just as vulnerable to damage.
In the study, Dr Noble commented that: “There are 80,000 to 150,000 environmental toxicants about which we know nothing” and he went on to say that it is unknown what effects other environmental toxicants are having, but that he suspects they might be making brain cells “more vulnerable to damage and disease.”
Stem cell treatment can only treat autism effectively if it is part of a whole program of treatment. We need to be treating the biomedical factors - with biomedical treatments like chelation, diet, supplements, HBOT etc. - before we can even consider treatments like stem cell treatment. If the environmental factors are still present, they will, in time, damage the new cells and we will be back to square one.
To conclude, I believe that autism is a multifactorial condition and we need to figure out what is causing the autism in the individual child to be able to treat them effectively. Biomedical treatments which combat these factors, by treating them or eliminating them from a child’s environment, will be much more effective and will lead to long-term benefits.