Tags: autism | supplement

Nutritional Supplement Helps Some Autistics

Monday, 10 September 2012 11:36 AM

An international team of scientists has identified a form of autism with epilepsy that may potentially be treatable with a common nutritional supplement.
The findings, by researchers from the University of California-San Diego and Yale University, suggest use of a simple, non-drug therapy may help many of the estimated one-quarter of autistics who also suffer epilepsy. They also may point the way to better understanding the condition.
According to a report on the study published in the journal Science, the scientific team used a new genetic technique called exome sequencing to determine that a gene mutation present in some patients with autism speeds up metabolism of certain amino acids.
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In test involving stem cells from patients with the condition and laboratory mice, the researchers evaluated the effects of a specific type of amino acid known as branched chain amino acids or BCAAs. BCAAs are not produced naturally in the body and must be acquired through diet.
The research team gave large doses of amino acids – contained in a nutritional supplement purchased at a health food store – to mice genetically engineered with the same genetic mutation found in people with autism and epilepsy. They found the supplement had a positive effect.
UCSD researcher Dr. Joseph G. Gleeson called the findings “very surprising.”
He added: "What was most exciting was that the potential treatment is obvious and simple: Just give affected patients the naturally occurring amino acids their bodies lack."
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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People with a form of autism that occurs with epilepsy may benefit from a common nutritional supplement.
Monday, 10 September 2012 11:36 AM
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