Monday, August 27, 2012

Immune Disorders and Autism

English: Trichuris Suis
English: Trichuris Suis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A recent article from the New York Times talks about the immune disorders and autism.  As my Gentle Readers might have noticed, aside from using a little bit of vitamins and supplements, I have steered clear of any biomedical interventions.  I am not interested in being a chemical experiment!  I just don't know enough biochemistry to make an informed decision.  However, there is some scientific evidence for the immune system interactions with at least some forms of autism.

At least a subset of autism — perhaps one-third, and very likely more — looks like a type of inflammatory disease. And it begins in the womb.

It starts with what scientists call immune dysregulation. Ideally, your immune system should operate like an enlightened action hero, meting out inflammation precisely, accurately and with deadly force when necessary, but then quickly returning to a Zen-like calm. Doing so requires an optimal balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory muscle.

In autistic individuals, the immune system fails at this balancing act. Inflammatory signals dominate. Anti-inflammatory ones are inadequate. A state of chronic activation prevails. And the more skewed toward inflammation, the more acute the autistic symptoms.

However, what is being proposed is dosing yourself with a parasite.  A noted immunologist, Dr. Parker, at Duke University has noted that maybe we are biologically dependent on the immune suppression provided by parasites.  Parasites provide anti-inflamatory properties naturally.

 ... a trial is under way at the Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine testing a medicalized parasite called Trichuris suis in autistic adults.

First used medically to treat inflammatory bowel disease, the whipworm, which is native to pigs, has anecdotally shown benefit in autistic children.

And really, if you spend enough time wading through the science, Dr. Parker’s idea — an ecosystem restoration project, essentially — not only fails to seem outrageous, but also seems inevitable.

I think Dr. Parker is on the right track.   I am not completely happy about eating whipworms though, no matter how medically sanitized they may be.

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