Friday, April 16, 2010

GWU Medical Center Study Suggests Autism May Be Treatable

"As the mother of a now 22-year-old son with an autism spectrum disorder, I hope our studies, as well as those of others, will lead to therapies that are designed to address specific deficiencies that are caused by autism, thus improving the lives of affected individuals.  Since autism is very diverse in the array of symptoms present in any given individual, it is first necessary to be able to identify specific deficits in each individual in order to design and then prescribe the best treatment."

Professor Valerie Hu, George Washington University, Researcher

As reported on, Study: Autism may be amenable to treatment, Professor Hu was commenting on the recent GWU study that claims to have found a way to identify autism disorder using blood. The study also discovered that drugs that affect the methylation** state of genes, drugs currently used in fighting cancer,  might also reverse specific autism effects. 

Successful, high functioning persons with Aspergers diagnoses, like university student and Obama  appointee Ari Ne'eman, and businessman, author and speaker John Elder Robison, who do not want parents to describe autism disorders honestly, and who do not want  us to  seek to cure our  own children of their autism disorders  might be alarmed by studies such as the GWU study and by Professor Hu's comments.  This father of a 14 year old boy severely affected by his Autistic Disorder is very pleased to see such studies taking place.

Thank you Professor Hu, and GWU Medical Center,  for your efforts to find treatments to help our autistic loved ones who suffer from the effects of  their autism disorders.  

On behalf of my son, Conor, I say thank you.

**For a helpful (to this humble layperson) explanation of methylation, genes and various diseases and disorders I suggest Silencing of the Genes on the Genome News Network


Ian MacGregor said...

Now this is exciting news indeed. MIT researchers have had success against Fragile X

a disorder caused by improper methylation

and now this research for GWU. I am very excited by this news. The necessary cautions about the length of time from research to use a s a medical treatment, and whether the research pans out in the end need to be taken. However this again is very, very good news

Scott Lynn said...

Very encoraging. Looking forward to see if anything comes out of the research.

Ian MacGregor said...

The paper itself is

Global methylation profiling of lymphoblastoid cell lines reveals epigenetic contributions to autism spectrum disorders and a novel autism candidate gene, RORA, whose protein product is reduced in autistic brain
AnhThu Nguyen,* Tibor A. Rauch,†,1 Gerd P. Pfeifer,† and Valerie W. Hu*,2
*Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia, USA; and †Department of Cancer Biology, City of Hope, Duarte, California, USA.

It is vry preliminary work, but the path to cure/mitigation needs to start somewhere