New Hope in Treatment of Autism in the Form of Stem Cells

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If you or your loved one suffer from any level of autism, you should be excited to know scientist are making great strides in the direction of treating this disease. By using human stem cells to grow the very first mini humans brains in a laboratory, scientists say this could very well lead to an entirely new level in the understanding of brain development and what goes wrong when a disorder such as autism occurs.

For the first time ever, scientists are now able to replicate the development of brain tissue in a full three dimensions. Under this study, scientists have already been able to produce a completely biological model of how a rare brain condition called microcephaly develops. This gives them a real-to-life human brain with this disorder and allows them to work directly with it to search for treatments and cures. They plan to use these very same techniques to create a mini human brain with the autism disorder so they may have a hands-on chance at finding ways to help those affected by autism.

While the development and study of mini human brains still has a very long way to go before it becomes a regular means of treating and curing diseases, it is a very positive and exciting step in working towards finding new ways to stop disease. Those who suffer from autism have a new reason for hope.

The important issues of Nagalase activity in ASD

source: FriendsofAutism.org

source: FriendsofAutism.org

Recent research has shown a strong correlation between Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and immune dysfunction. Nagalase, an immune system regulator, has been known to be overly active in many people with ASD. This association has already become a promising avenue of investigation.

The importance of immunological control
In order to manage a broad range of defensive tasks, the immune system requires multi-leveled and complex control mechanisms. If these regulatory mechanisms go awry for any reason, a multitude of disease states can develop. Allergies, Multiple Sclerosis and some types of diabetes are a few of the many disorders known to arise due to imbalanced immune regulation.

Nagalase (alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase) is an enzyme that functions as one factor in immune regulation and has been noted to be overly abundant in certain states of immune system malfunction and ASD. The normal role of nagalase is to inactivate a protein found in the blood that is responsible for activating macrophages. These important cells of the immune system are insufficiently activated when nagalase activity is excessive.

The potential for GcMAF therapy
Macrophage activating factor (GcMAF), another naturally occurring blood protein, also works to stimulate macrophages. Administered therapeutically, GcMAF has been shown in numerous human studies to be effective at enhancing immune functioning and decreasing nagalase activity.

New research providing ASD patients with GcMAF therapy has shown similar immunological improvements with little to no side effects. Most importantly, cognitive, social and language skills all showed substantial improvement during the therapy. These ground-breaking results make GcMAF an important and promising potential treatment for ASD.

Can Jellyfish Proteins Alleviate Autistic Speech Problems?

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Current research on Autism has been making great strides, and a new weapon in the fight against the syndrome is currently under consideration; the possibility that certain proteins derived from jellyfish can possibly alleviate some of the speech problems associated with the condition.

This possible treatment did not come from the usual sources delving into Autism, but rather from researchers focusing on a different syndrome… Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as MND or Lou Gherig’s Disease. One factor of this disease is faulty calcium regulation in the brain, leading to a state of elevated concentrations that damage neurons – and researchers have found that certain jellyfish proteins, specifically apoaequorin, can act as a buffer and reduce the effects of ALS.

One pharmaceutical company attempting to bring such a treatment to market has produced a drug that has shown great promise. Initial research into Prevagen has shown that it can improve memory in subjects, specifically in the areas of learning and word recall, as well as aiding in sleep. Though research into the drug/protein’s impact on ALS can only be called anecdotal at this point it has been reported that, while not halting the progress of the disease, patients who received apoaequorin evidenced progression rates much slower than their counterparts who did not receive the treatment.

At this point there are no studies into the impact of apoaequorin/Prevagen on Autism, but anything that would help protect a patient’s motor neurons from a neurological disease is definitely something to explore!

Using Oxytocin to Treat Autism

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What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a potent hormone that is generated within the nerve tissues of cells. It has many important functions within the body such as helping it to relax, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and induces breastfeeding and childbirth. In the brain it is functions as a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making us have feelings of intimacy and safety with others. The hormone stimulates us to give or be receptive to affection that varies from casual to romantic feelings or parent and child bonding. It has been dubbed the “love hormone” because it creates tunnel vision by considerably heightening our focus on people we are interested in while drowning unrelated background noises or outside stimulus.

How Oxytocin Influences Autism

Scientists long suspected that people with autism-spectrum disorders experience difficulty processing social interactions because they have a compromised level of the oxytocin hormone. Until recently, the link has never been discovered as to why that is. New research reveals oxytocin as a crucial component for stimulating serotonin in the area of the brain that processes feelings of happiness with social interactions. Scientists believe that oxytocin therapy may be able to reduce feelings of social awkwardness and even boost positive social awareness for people with autism.

Far-Infrared Sauna Therapy and Autism

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Parents of children with Autism are always on the lookout for the most recent medical advances. Anyway that they can help their children become more connected with the outside world is a plus. Unfortunately, modern medical has not found many treatment options. There are no pills or surgeries that can appropriately treat Autism, but there is one less conventional treatment option that can help.

Most people wouldn’t perceive saunas as a treatment for a medical condition, but research shows children with Autism respond positively to Far-Infrared Sauna Therapy. This treatment method consists of using a sauna to heat up the body. Many responses in the body are stimulated by this therapy. One of them is the removal of heavy metals through sweating. Saunas raise the internal body temperature causing sweating which removes toxins. It is believed many children with Autism have high levels of metals and mercury in the bloodstream.

Another way that Far-Infrared Sauna Therapy benefits children with Autism is through triggering a fever response. Fevers are beneficial at fighting illness and are known to be very cleansing. Parents of children with Autism have often noted that after having a low grade fever their children have demonstrated better cognitive function and maintained eye contact. Using Far-Infrared Sauna Therapy can also increase the immune system function and blood flow. Parents who have children suffering from Autism should consider Far-Infrared Sauna Therapy as a treatment option.

Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 3

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We know based on research that growth and development can be severely impaired by chemicals, pesticides, metals and other toxic substances. Is there anything that we can do now?

  • We can support green efforts to decrease environmental pollutants.
  • We can prepare for pregnancy by detoxifying 3-6 months before trying to conceive.
  • We can address nutrient deficiencies and correct them.
  • We can eat a diet rich in good quality protein, green leafy vegetables and complex carbohydrates.
  • We can choose supplements like omega-3 and antioxidants to protect our cells.
  • We can breastfeed our babies as it has been shown to decrease rates of ASD and ADHD.

Children with autism can benefit from increasing nutrient and antioxidant status.  Correcting nutrient deficiencies, taking essential fatty acids and increasing antioxidant levels show positive improvements in language, social and cognitive development.

Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 2

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From the time of conception, babies are de-methylated and as they grow and develop, they go through a process called methylation.  Both methylation and detoxification form an important balance that supports growth and development.  They work hand-in-hand so that as one slows down, so does that other.  Children with autism have shown to have impairments in these cycles, which may begin to explain why children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are quite susceptible to environmental toxicity.

A 2009 study completed by researchers at the University of Texas, found startling evidence that the environment plays a large role in autism.  The study was designed to determine if living close to sources of mercury pollution in 1998 were related to autism prevalence in 2002. They found that for every 1000 pounds of industrial release, there were a 2.6% increase in autism rates and a 3.7% increase associated with power plant emissions. Overall, for every 10 miles away you got from industrial or power plant sources, there was a decrease in autism rates.

The same researchers revealed an association between environmentally-released mercury and autism rates also in Texas.  For each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 61% increase in ASD.

Toxins play a large role in the health of our bodies. Lead levels have been linked to ASD, ADHD and learning disabilities.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study that found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in U.S. hospitals in 2004.  Further tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in this group of children. The umbilical cord blood identified pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. It is clear that environmental toxicity is impacting all children and adults.

 

Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 1

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As a health care practitioner who specializes in autism, the relationship between autism spectrum disorder, genetics and environmental toxicity is first in my mind always and this has also been the subject of research for many years.  What we do know now is that one of the key reasons for the dramatic rise in autism rates in the last 15-20 years can be attributed to environmental toxicity.

Children with autism are more susceptible to oxidative damage and environmental toxins than other children. Autism research has shown that oxidative stress levels are high and antioxidant levels are low.  Antioxidants protect our bodies from harmful chemicals and substances circulating in food, air, water and soil.  They are essential for normal development.  Environmental toxins such as heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides and other harmful substances lower a person’s antioxidant status.

In each of our bodies there are 7 detoxification pathways that are supported by antioxidants.  There is a relationship between normal development and detoxification that is necessary to be in balance for children to grow, thrive, and learn new skills.

Research has shown that children with autism have depleted stores of glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants that support detoxification of toxic substances. Researchers have identified that children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) had up to 80% of this important compound depleted.  The brain relies 100% on glutathione to support development, therefore as glutathione levels decrease, so does the “fuel” needed for development.

Promising New Environmental Links Surface as Science Continues to Search for Autism’s Roots

200114153-001Many disorders of the mind and the majority of bodily illnesses are now considered to be “caused” by some combination of a genetic predisposition or marker and some type of environmental “trigger”. A more specific version of the classic “Nature vs. Nurture” argument. Even diseases and disorders that go beyond manageable to the realm of being progressively treatable or even in some cases curable often have pathologies or beginnings that are not completely understood or not verifiable in the strict scientific sense.

One previously hotly debated environmental factor thought by some to be related to autism and specifically the rise in its prevalency is immunizations. The decade from 1993-2003 saw an 800% increase in the Autism rate. In the 1980’s children by the age of 6 were given a maximum of 10 vaccines and the incidence of Autism was roughly 1 in every 10,000 children. Based on data from 2006, the current official rate of children with Autism is 1 in 110 and the CDC’s official recommendation totals 36 vaccines by age 6.However during this same period of time two indisputable factors contributed to the apparent dramatic increase. Both parents and doctors are now much more likely to notice and diagnose Autism and the diagnostic criteria have also been expanded to a more inclusive spectrum.

Regardless of whether Autism is on the rise, the most recent study released by esteemed Harvard University points to the environmental factor of the mother’s nutrition (specifically Iron)just before and early on in pregnancy as a link to lowering risk of the disease occurring. Another new report finds specific types of air pollution to cause an increased risk of having an Autistic child. These latest study findings are very exciting because of course if environmental factors are found to be a direct cause for Autism, then there are ways intervene or change the environment and prevent this disease from developing and save countless future children form a difficult or unfullfilled life.