Researchers in Texas Launch Autism Study Using Protein Supplement
Wednesday November 22, 1:12 pm ET
DALLAS, Texas, Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ - Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Immunotec Research Ltd. have initiated a study in which a specially formulated whey protein isolate (Immunocal)will be used to raise glutathione levels in an attempt to lessen symptoms of autism.
Autism is a neurological developmental disorder that affects children's ability to socialize normally, impairs language skills, restricts their interests and curiosity and causes other behavioral abnormalities. Most cases are diagnosed before three years of age, and there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases diagnosed over the past two decades. Currently, 1 in every 175 American children is being identified as having autism, and these numbers are on the rise each year. To date, medical treatment of this disorder has been minimally effective.
Although the causes of autism have not been clearly identified, research has suggested that chronic biochemical imbalance plays a role. Studies have shown that levels of the major intracellular antioxidant "Glutathione" is typically about 50% lower in children with autism. Glutathione, which is produced by every cell in the body, is responsible for a number of functions including removing or neutralizing dangerous substances that we are exposed to on a daily basis, including toxic metals. Toxins, pollution, disease, stress, and poor diet can all contribute to loss of glutathione. When glutathione levels reach a critically low degree, we are much more vulnerable to toxins and immune dysfunction.
Principal investigator for this study is Dr. Janet Kern, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, which is internationally recognized for its clinical and research programs.
"Some children with autism are poor detoxifiers relative to normally developing children, and in particular, have trouble excreting toxic metals," said Dr. Kern. "Toxic metals that are not eliminated may build up in the brain. Plasma glutathione has been found to be lower in children with autism, particularly, in children with autism who have regressed. We want to clearly establish that raising glutathione levels in these children will improve their ability to detoxify these substances and in that way improve some of their symptoms."
Dr. Jill James, Professor of Pediatrics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, will be a co-investigator. Dr. James is noted for her landmark studies in autism and toxicology and is among the first scientists to point out the links with low glutathione levels. " We know that Immunocal has been used to raise glutathione in other studies very effectively in areas such as cancer and lung disease. We want to take advantage of this same technology", stated James.
The team will be using a protein supplement produced by Immunotec Research Ltd. near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, called "Immunocal". It is identified by the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) as a glutathione precursor. Immunotec Research Ltd. has combined rigorous research and business acumen delivering natural healthcare and dietary supplements in 22 countries worldwide.
Source: IMMUNOTEC RESEARCH LTD.