By Teresa Conrick
Mainstream medicine seems to be toying around with the idea of "borrowing" scientifically sound interventions from the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) movement and other alternative doctors who treat autism. This recent article, Antioxidant shows promise as treatment for certain features of autism, study finds , is an irony on many levels. Some highlights, that we will call -- IRONY #1:
- A specific antioxidant supplement may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial
- The antioxidant, called N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reducing the children’s repetitive behaviors.
- Stanford is filing a patent for the use of NAC in autism, and one of the study authors has a financial stake in a company that makes and sells the NAC used in the trial.
- “One of the reasons I wanted to do this trial was that NAC is being used by community practitioners who focus on alternative, non-traditional therapies,” Hardan said. “But there is no strong scientific evidence to support these interventions
Interesting ..."no strong scientific evidence to support" seems hardly correct. Investigating NAC years ago, I discovered its use in Autism was most probably related to its use as a chelator of toxic metals.
There are 81 studies listed on Pubmed that deal strictly with N-acetyl cysteine and mercury. Here are some good examples:
- N-acetylcysteine as an antidote in methylmercury poisoning
" The present study demonstrates that oral administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a widely available and largely nontoxic amino acid derivative, produces a profound acceleration of urinary methylmercury excretion in mice.....The ability of NAC to enhance methylmercury excretion when given orally, its relatively low toxicity, and is wide availability in the clinical setting indicate that it may be an ideal therapeutic agent for use in methylmercury poisoning."
- N-acetyl cysteine treatment reduces mercury-induced neurotoxicity in the developing rat hippocampus.
"Mercury is an environmental toxicant that can disrupt brain development....Here, based on its known efficacy in promoting MeHg urinary excretion, we evaluated NAC for protective effects in the developing brain. In immature neurons and precursors, MeHg (3 μM) induced a >50% decrease in DNA synthesis at 24 hr, an effect that was completely blocked by NAC coincubation.....Treatment of MeHg-exposed rats with repeated injections of NAC abolished MeHg toxicity. NAC prevented the reduction in DNA synthesis and the marked increase in caspase-3 immunoreactivity. Moreover, the intermediate-term decrease in hippocampal cell number provoked by MeHg was fully blocked by NAC. Altogether these results suggest that MeHg toxicity in the perinatal brain can be ameliorated by using NAC, opening potential avenues for therapeutic intervention."
- Thimerosal Neurotoxicity is Associated with Glutathione Depletion: Protection with Glutathione Precursors
"Thimerosal alone induced approximately 3-fold decrease in cell viability whereas pretreatment with either cystine, glutathione,
or NAC provided significant protection from cell death....It is likely that the extracellular NAC and glutathione provided partial protection by complexing with the Thimerosal in the culture medium as well as by increasing intracellular glutathione levels....The significant protection by NAC and glutathione ethyl ester against Thimerosal cytotoxicity suggests the possibility that supplementation with glutathione precursors might be protective against mercury exposures in vivo. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of NAC in increasing intracellular glutathione levels and reducing oxidative stress in humans."