News and announcements for Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region

Autism and Cord Blood Stem Cells: FDA OKs Clinical Trial

Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in Children's Services, Neurosciences, Our Services, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento | 0 comments

SACRAMENTO – Sutter Neuroscience Institute, a recognized center of excellence in pediatric neuroscience, and CBR (Cord Blood Registry), the world’s largest stem cell bank, launched the first FDA-approved clinical trial to assess the use of a child’s own newborn stem cells to treat select patients with autism. This first-of-its-kind, placebo-controlled study will evaluate the ability of an infusion of cord blood stem cells to help improve language and behavior. The study is in conjunction with the Sutter Institute for Medical Research.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism impacts one in 88 children in the United States, and one in 54 boys.1 The condition is thought to have multiple risk factors, including genetic, environmental and immunological components.

“This is the start of a new age of research in stem cell therapies for chronic diseases such as autism, and a natural step to determine whether patients receive some benefit from an infusion of their own cord blood stem cells,” said Michael Chez, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Neurology with the Sutter Neuroscience Institute and principal study investigator. “I will focus on a select portion of children diagnosed with autism who have no obvious cause for the condition, such as known genetic syndromes or brain injury.”

The study will enroll 30 children between the ages of 2 and 7 with a diagnosis of autism who meet the inclusion criteria located at Enrolled participants will receive two infusions — one of the child’s own cord blood stem cells and one of a placebo — over the course of 13 months. Both the participants and the lead investigators will be blinded from knowing the content of each infusion. To ensure the highest quality and consistency in cord blood stem cell processing, storage and release for infusion, CBR is the only family stem cell bank providing clients for the study.

For information on participation in the study, please call 1-888-536-9826 or visit

Study Rationale

A newborn’s umbilical cord blood contains a unique population of stem cells that have been used for more than 20 years in medical practice to treat certain cancers, blood diseases and immune disorders. When patients undergo a stem cell transplant for these conditions, the stem cells effectively rebuild the blood and immune systems.

“A focus of my research has been the complex relationship between a child’s immune system and central nervous system. We have evidence to suggest that certain children with autism have dysfunctional immune systems that may be damaging or delaying the development of the nervous system,” continued Dr. Chez. “Cord blood stem cells may offer ways to modulate or repair the immune systems of these patients which would also improve language and some behavior in children who have no obvious reason to have become autistic. The study is similar to other FDA-approved clinical trials looking at cord blood stem cells as a therapy for cerebral palsy.”

“It’s exciting to partner with thought-leading medical researchers and clinicians, like Dr. Chez, who are pursuing a scientifically-sound approach in evaluating new therapeutic uses for cord blood stem cells for conditions that currently have no cures,” said Heather Brown, vice president of scientific & medical affairs at CBR. “Families who made the decision to bank their stem cells to cover the unknowns and what ifs in life are gaining access to this and other important clinical trials while playing an important role in the advancement of science.”

The co-investigator of the study is Michael Carroll, M.D., medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Hematological Malignancies Program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

“There is a vast amount of unchartered territory when it comes to how stem cell therapies may help patients living with these conditions,” said Dr. Carroll. “I’ve seen how stem cell therapy has changed my field of medicine and how I care for my blood cancer patients. I am eager to see how our work can open new doors for patients and families dealing with autism.”

About CBR: CBR® (Cord Blood Registry®) is the world’s largest and most experienced cord blood bank. The company has consistently led the industry in technical innovations and supporting clinical trials. It safeguards more than 400,000 cord blood collections for individuals and their families. CBR was the first family bank accredited by AABB and the company’s quality standards have been recognized through ISO 9001:2008 certification—the global business standard for quality. CBR has also released more client cord blood units for specific therapeutic use than any other family cord blood bank. Our research and development efforts are focused on helping the world’s leading clinical researchers advance regenerative medical therapies. For more information, visit

About Sutter Neuroscience Institute: Sutter Neuroscience Institute’s multidisciplinary teams of nationally recognized specialists and highly trained nurses and technicians provide skilled diagnosis and advanced treatment of complex conditions of the brain, spine and central nervous system. Infants through adults also receive the benefit of today’s most advanced technology and access to clinical trials of tomorrow’s most promising developments. The Institute, which is headquartered at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, is part of the Sutter Health network, which includes many of California’s top-performing, highest-quality physician organizations as measured annually by the Integrated Healthcare Association. Sutter-affiliated hospitals are regional leaders in cardiac care, women’s and children’s services, cancer care, orthopedics and advanced patient safety technology. For more information about the not-for-profit Sutter Health network, please visit

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Data and Statistics,, accessed May 2012


Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in Children's Services, Neurosciences, Our Services, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento | 0 comments