Cost Of Stem Cell Therapy For Autism
Everyone deals with a medical issue at some point in their lives, but in these cases, medical attention is always a temporary imposition on life. Whether it’s surgery or an illness, professional medical attention in the form of a diagnosis, professional treatment, or a prescription with directions to follow may be all that’s required to get over the problem. And while medical treatment can be expensive, for some countries, such as Canada, for example, critical medical treatment is taken care of by the government, so, fortunately, there are no exorbitant costs.
Sadly, however, not every medical problem is something that can be cleared up with a single procedure, and not every country has invested in a medicare infrastructure like Canada. Some medical conditions, like autism, otherwise known as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, have no known cure, and the symptoms can only be managed. And the management of those symptoms has a cost.
One emerging form of treatment for ASD is known as stem cell therapy. But what is it, and what can people expect to pay for such a procedure?
The Stem Cell Revolution
Stem cell therapy is a relatively recent form of medical treatment, and is still being intensely researched for myriad applications, although it is already in heavy use in the United States as an effective—but very limited—form of medical treatment. It relies on the usage of stem cells, which, surprisingly, is not a brand new synthetic invention of medical laboratories, but instead the usage of something so natural that it’s an essential part of the pregnancy process.
Stem cells are also known as “master cells” because they can “convert” or “reprogram” themselves into any cell of the human body. Where blood cells can only create more blood cells, and hair cells can only grow more hair, a stem cell can turn into a nerve cell, brain cell, lung cell, or whatever else is required. This is no big surprise, as it is from stem cells, during pregnancy, that a group of undifferentiated cells can divide and eventually specialize into the different organs that make up the human body. Without stem cells, humans couldn’t grow from a single, unfertilized cell into a multi-cellular organism with many organs.
How Therapy Works
Stem cell therapy takes stem cells and reintroduces them into the human body. This is normally done through some type of injection, a common point of insertion being the spinal cord. However, stem cells are unique to a person, which means that there are only two types of stem cells that can be used and accepted by the body. “Cord blood” refers to the fluids in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth, the “leftovers” of stem cells used to grow a baby to maturity. To use these stem cells, they must be harvested after birth and stored.
The other option is to harvest less powerful stem cells after birth within the human body, within the bone marrow. This is a much more extensive procedure that will require surgery in addition to the stem cell injection itself. These two types of stem cells and their harvesting methods are currently the only means of introducing stem cells into a body that won’t be rejected. The results, however, are that certain types of cancer, such as leukemia, are cured, as cancerous blood cells are replaced with newly grown healthy ones. Now stem cell therapy is being researched and applied to other conditions such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, and ASD.
Limited FDA Approval
One of the biggest barriers to cost for stem cell therapy as a treatment for autism is the need for travel. For the moment, stem cell therapy, while promising massive potential for a range of different conditions, is only legally approved in the United States for treatments of specific types of cancer of the blood, such as leukemia. Any other use of stem cell therapy, including ALS, or ASD, is currently not approved by the FDA, and therefore, not legally available in the United States.
There are other countries, however, such as Mexico in the Americas, and Georgia, in Europe, that have fully-staffed and experienced stem cell therapy specialists, but this does require budgeting for travel and accommodation in addition to the procedure itself.
The Procedure Cost
Once travel to a destination country has been factored in, there is the matter of the cost of the procedure. If you’ve had the foresight to have cord blood stored after pregnancy, then you’ve already paid some of the costs for storage, and will now need to pay for safe transport to the clinic site. However, this option isn’t available to you, then there is an additional cost for the surgery to harvest stem cells from bone marrow.
In general, the stem cell procedure averages between USD$12000-15000 depending on the country and technique. In Georgia clinics, as one example, people can expect to pay about USD$12000 + VAT for all procedures.