After being diagnosed with autism, two-year-old Archit Dev would have probably spent the rest of his life as an incapacitated individual had it not been for his resolute father and the science behind stem cells.
A resident of Ghaziabad, Archit was unable make eye contact, speak to anyone or even sit at one location. But after undergoing treatment for a year, Archit now has better concentration, understands names and instructions and is even devising new games.
His parents, who are witness to his unexpected improvement, attribute this change to stem cell therapy treatment.
Arvind, an electrical engineer, says his son seemed perfectly ordinary at birth. They were shocked to hear that Archit could be suffering from autism.
He says: “My wife and I grappled with the shock that our son is a patient of a serious disease. Then we took him to various doctors who advised behaviourial therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, even homeopathy, but no one guaranteed full treatment.”
“I would search the internet rigorously for a possible treatment, when we came across stem cell treatment which promised significant improvement. Unfortunately, there were not many hospitals or doctors providing this procedure in India. A relative, while looking for a cosmetic treatment, stumbled on Advancells, which told us that they could help my son,” Arvind added. Stem cells are known as the ‘mother cells’ which are present in the blood of the umblical cord just after birth. Archit went for the first session in early 2014.
His doctor, Dr Vikram Pabreja, consultant, regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies, says: “Stem cell therapy treatment involves a three-step procedure. First, we stimulate the dormant stem cells. Then, with the help of certain medicines, we make them grow and multiply. Blood is extracted from the patient’s body and some components are separated. Lastly, it is re-injected in the body as close to the site of the physical trauma, as possible.” “In Archit’s case, the stem cells were derived from his bone marrow extracted from the thigh and then, through lumbar puncture in the spine, injected back in to reach the brain.”
Arvind says the doctors told him the effect would be seen in seven to eight months but he started noticing the positive changes within a month. “We were surprised. He stopped flapping his hands without reason, began to focus on things and became more intelligent.”
Vipul Jain, CEO of Advancells, says: “Not many people are aware of stem cell therapy treatment. Fortunately, it does not even require freezing and banking of stem cells after birth. This procedure can be done at any age with the ‘mother cells’ extracted from the person’s own bone marrow. Also, it can treat a range of disorders such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and disabilities of the heart, kidney, liver and lung.”
“The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has not yet certified it as a commercially viable treatment. It is termed an ‘experimentative’ procedure in which patients are made to sign a paper that they understand the risks.”
As more research is approved by ICMR, more people will benefit, says Jain.