One of the things I love most about Age of Autism readers are the intelligent and sophisticated comments they leave on articles.
In response to my article “Seizures and the Immune System” which detailed findings from New York University and the Scripps Institute that a meningitis virus in mice causes the T-cells to respond abnormally, resulting in inflammation and seizures I received the following comment from Cherry Sperlin Misra.
“A pertinent point may come from Dr. Isaac Pessah at U.C. Davis; His work showed that even very low concentrations of thimerosal (mercury) damaged the immune system. It happened in this way: Dendritic cells are the kingpins of the immune system. Each dendritic cell controls 200-300 T cells. When dendritic cells are affected by mercury, they first begin to send aberrant signals to the T-cells and when further damaged, they cease to send signals. Perhaps T cells in the brain are unable to function normally after mercury affects their controllers. This would give bacteria and viruses that reach the brain (including those introduced thru vaccines), the opportunity to do damage. Perhaps they would be, in effect, unstoppable.”
And of course when I checked out that research I found that the article (“Uncoupling of ATP-Mediated Calcium Signaling and Disregulated IL-6 Secretion in Dendritic Cells by Nanomolar Thimerosal”, July 2006 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, the peer-reviewed publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science), had been accurately quoted. Our readers don’t get much wrong.
Because like everybody who reads Age of Autism I’m trying to get to the bottom of not just how our kids have been damaged, but how to recover them. My approach has been to listen to anybody who thinks they have something to offer, then try to figure out the commonalities between the differing accounts.
I’ve researched the possible role of HHV-6 in children with autism, as well as the stealth virus issue raised by another of Jacqueline's doctors. Can viruses act in ways which cause them to evade the immune system? Once they gained a foothold, could they disrupt the mitochondria, leading to low cellular energy, and the accumulation of heavy metals? It's an intriguing possibility and worthy of further study. You might say that whenever the issue of viruses is raised I’m listening. I do believe viruses play a significant role in autism and seizures. I mentioned before that with the UV light treatment I used to stimulate her cellular energy (and conceivably battle viruses) I got my first high mercury readings (23, reference range 5). Now I can also add a high lead reading (180, reference level 5) from a recent test.
While these results are gratifying, my child is still very seriously affected with autism and seizures. There are significant changes, but I keep looking for better treatments and a clearer understanding of what is going on with my daughter. Until she’s “recovered”, that’s my mission.
A recent visit to my local DAN doctor was instructive on how many practitioners are now looking at autism as an issue of both “infections and toxins.” While we seem to have a good idea of the toxins (mercury, aluminum, arsenic, lead, et al) on infections we’re not quite sure if the biggest players are viruses, bacteria, or fungus. And when my DAN doctor wanted to go after toxins rather than viruses first, it reminded me a bit of the bitter civil war in the satirical “Gulliver’s Travels”, between one group of little people who declared you had to open an egg from the small side, and another who believed the only proper way to open an egg was from the large side.
When my local DAN doctor saw the high lead reading she said it was “astonishing!” and comparable to what she gets from IV chelation. In the past I’d been wary of IV chelation, but in the years since I first looked at it the field seems to have come a long way.
Then I was recently re-reading Jenny McCarthy’s book “Mother Warriors” and came across the section about Stan Kurtz, now president of Generation Rescue. (Hey, he’s practically the only decent dad in the book, so naturally I’d gravitate to him!) He’s all over the viral connection to autism. Here’s an excerpt from “Mother Warriors” about Stan’s story.
“I didn’t know where or how viruses came into play. I just thought, “All right, I’ll check this out.” So I began research on the viral stuff and I was like, “Oh my God! A viral pattern!” An ongoing infection can mimic a lot of the biochemistry we see in autism.
Then I started looking at the medical literature and found there are cases of late-onset autism at fourteen and age thirty-one from a herpes virus. A fourteen-year-old girl gets a virus and bang: She’s autistic. A thirty-one-year-old man, boom: autistic.
As early as 1981 there was medical literature talking about medical treatments and the reversal of autism. How the f*** doesn’t everybody know this? All you have to do is go into PubMed, a free search engine for accessing MEDLINE, the database of peer-reviewed medical literature sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. When you type in “autism and viruses” or “autism and herpes”, you will find these cases immediately. So I was thinking, “I can’t believe this! This is insane!” (P. 173-174)
Then there are the three ways the lawyers in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding are presenting their cases. The first theory is that the measles virus and thimerosal cause autism. The second is that thimerosal on its own can cause the disorder. The third is that the measles virus on its own can cause it. We’re supposed to be getting a decision by the end of January. (Although that's now come and gone!) And of course, there's the Hannah Poling case in which the government admitted that the vaccines somehow affected her production of mitochondrial energy and caused both her autism and seizures.
When we look at Dr. Pessah's research from U.C. Davis we get a picture of how mercury can alter the dendrites, resulting in T-cells not responding as they should and calling in an overabundance of monocytes and neutrophils which in turn causes the brain inflammation long noted in people with autism. When you look at the stealth virus theory along with the research from New York University and the Scripps Institute you get a picture of how certain viruses are evading the immune system. Do these viruses also affect cellular energy, leading to a retention of heavy metals? Are these approaches mutually exclusive? Or are we finally understanding the various ways in which the body's immune system can fail to adequately respond to certain challenges and cause autism?
Infections and toxins. It seems to be the mantra of our cause. When I went after viruses, I got metal excretions. When people go after metals are they getting rid of viruses, bacteria, and fungus as well?
And so I struck a deal with my local DAN doctor. I said I wanted to go after viruses and other infections first, then look at going after the metals specifically. Like one of the little people in “Gulliver’s Travels”, I’m choosing one side of the egg. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try the other side.
All I’m concerned about is getting to the person inside. Just like all of you are. Keep the comments coming. Together we're going to figure this out.
Kent Heckenlively is the Legal Editor of Age of Autism