We've been watching this clinical trial closely. We gave you the first upbeat update in late 2015 and gave you a behind-the-scenes look at the results late last year, but Duke University has just now officially released the findings from its phase I study on the safety of treating autistic children with an intravenous infusion of their own umbilical cord blood stem cells. And the results are promising. Following this news, CNN posted a video of one family who took part in this clinical trial and saw encouraging outcomes in their young daughter.
Meet Gracie Gregory. Gracie displayed many of the traits of autism including avoidance of social touch and verbal and nonverbal communication, repetition of actions, and overall behaviorial problems such as trantrums, outbursts, and public fits. She was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism a little after her second birthday, but her parents, Gina and Wade Gregory, say caring for her consumed about 75% of their day.
It is around this time that Gracie's parents first heard about a trial using cold blood stem cells in the treatment of autism. After taking part in this phase I trial, Gracie has never been the same.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Gina and Wade say her improvements have been around an 8 or 9. They says her autism now affects only 10% of their day and that Gracie's trantrums have gotten much better, she shows more affection, and she can better handle stressful social situations. Up until this change in Gracie's behavior, she did not seem to fit in any specialized school programs, where, today, Gracie is able to attend—and thrive in—"regular" school.
"We will say we don't think it's cured her. You still see some of the small idiosyncrasies that she does have," said Wade. "But again, I think it's supercharged her learning curve. It's pushed her to do things she normally wouldn't do."
"She got better, and we're just thankful for that," added Gina.