Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Inability to Metabolize Fats May Be Key to Autism

This article in the Newark Star-Ledger describes research by NJ scientists on how the body breaks down fatty acids, and its connection to autism. Some excerpts:
"Researchers say that in the future a person's risk for autism could be measured with a simple urine test that would look for high levels of "bad" fat molecules, or a blood test that could reveal genetic problems, including the absence of a key gene, called GSTM1, which is responsible for metabolizing good fats. Many people with autism do not have this gene.
Xue Ming, a neuroscientist and a founding director of the Autism Center at UMNDJ-Newark, discovered that children with autism have higher levels of bad fat molecules in their urine than typical children.
No one understands yet why it is that so many children with autism have such metabolic differences, but Ming suggested it might be caused by an interaction between genes and the environment. It may be that having less of these key fats reduces the body's ability to deal with environmental and metabolic stress. "

""Metabolic issues in autism are entirely understudied," said Sophia Colamarino, science director for Cure Autism Now, a major advocacy and research group in Los Angeles. "It's a very exciting area. There is accumulating evidence that would clearly tell me this is where I should look."
The New Jersey scientists are cautious, however, about their preliminary results, and warn families not to expect a miracle cure. Testing on humans, they say, could take a few years.
Meanwhile, the researchers are preparing a preliminary study to begin in September. Lambert hopes to work with 5- to 7-year-olds at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center in New Brunswick, a school for children with autism run by Rutgers.
Lambert will be giving the children doses of a good fatty acids to see if they have any noticeable effect on the children's cognitive, social and behavioral states. The study will use a control group of similar students.
"New Jersey is the perfect place to do this," said Lambert, director of the EPA-funded Center for Neurotoxicology. "We have a high incidence (of autism), a long history of activism and a strong community." "

1 comment:

mcewen said...

In light of the recent CDC figures, New Jersey would seem like the perfect spot.
Cheers