October 29, 2005

DAN! Blogging

I am attending the Long Beach Dan Conference. It is about half way through the three days of Autism research and treatment discussions, and the thought that keeps coming back to me is, how in the world can mainstream medicine be ignoring the DAN movement and the biomedical treatment for autism when there is THIS MUCH information on what the metabolic dysfunction is and THIS MANY children who have their autistic symptoms abate as a result of treating the dysfunction??

I feel like have a decent understanding of autism doctors and researchers growing understanding of what is going on inside autistic children as compared to most laymen, but being here, I realize how much more information there is than I had imagined.

I am sitting in one of the Science Sessions for doctors right now listening to Richard Deth talk about methylation dysfunction and dopamine D4 receptors and lymphoblasts and protein activation and well… other minutia that I can barely track. (Synchronizing Neuronal Networks: How improved Methylation Helps Autism). I quit trying to understand the details about 10 minutes ago, so I thought the best use of my time would be offering you my thoughts on the broad strokes that I am hearing.

Heavy metals interrupt the process of methylation, preventing the body from producing glutathione, which leads to impaired to Neuronal Synchronization, which we describe as Autism. Some people have genetic risk factors (like MTHFR, Transcobalmin II, MS Reductaise, COMT, and UBE3A), which causes this methylation interruption to happen at much lower levels of metal exposure. And oh, by the way, Thimerosal is one of those substances that interrupt methylation, and for some people with these severe genetic predispositions it does so at VERY small amounts, even a few nano-molars.

What is neuronal synchronization? Nerves firing in synchrony. If you are looking at a pen, and one neuron is transmitting the color of the pen and another neuron is transmitting the shape of the pen, we see a black pen. If these two neurons are transmitting the information at different rates, and each of these pieces of information arrive at different times, will the brain be able to build a coherent picture of what is being observed? If not, how will the individual be able recognize that picture in their head as a pen?

“This seems to be the recurring theme at most of the sessions. You will hear a long presentation on vitamins and minerals, sulferation, GI dysbiosis, methylation, whatever… Then the presenter will say, and by the way, make sure your child stays away from toxins, especially mercury, as it will screw up the healing pathway and here’s how…”

I gotta ask the question, are any of those who have been criticizing the mercury trigger hypothesis even looked into the science behind it? I may not be able to understand the intricacies of methylation (my best biology 101 analogy is that is a really complex version of a process like the Kreb cycle with molecules attaching and flying off to create substances the body uses to function properly), but it is more than obvious how doses of thimerosal set off a chain reaction that results in information processing problems, especially in people who already have other genetic factors that threaten the methylation process.

So. Offit, Orac, Kevin, Skeptico, JP, and those of you so vehemently reject the thimerosal/autism connection, have you really looked into the research? Have you into methylation dysfunction, its causes and its consequences?

Honestly, until you can explain how mercury does not damage methylation dysfunction or explain how methylation dysfunction does not impair the central nervous system and produce autistic like behaviors, then I am not sure how you can speak with any authority on the lack of a correlation between thimerosal and autism.

Attend a DAN conference and then we can talk.

…and if any one wants to stop by and say hello, I am the one sitting in back with the laptop.

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