In a development certain to rock the autism world and completely change existing interventions, scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine may have discovered the root problem of autism as well as a similar “devastating group of metabolic diseases”. (“New Test for Mysterious Metabolic Diseases”, Science Daily, February 16, 2009)
According to senior study author Greg Enns, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and director of the biochemical genetics program at Lucielle Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, “When a car engine doesn’t work, it smokes. What we looked for is, in essence, biochemical smoke.”
According to the Science Daily article, these metabolic diseases arise from mutations in the cell’s fuel-burning mechanism, otherwise known as the mitochondria. “Like a car engine, when mitochondria are not burning fuel cleanly, they kick out nasty gunk. Defective mitochondria produce large quantities of oxygen free radicals-highly reactive molecules that damage DNA and cell structures. Comparing patients who have a mitochondrial disorder with healthy people in the control group, Enns’ team searched for signs that free radicals overtax patients’ natural antioxidant defense systems. And they found it.”
The startling evidence they found . . . wait for it . . . was low levels of . . . glutathione!
In another ground-breaking finding the scientists found that “patients taking antioxidant supplements did not have depleted glutathione.”
In the days of the Pony Express it was said that you could get information from one side of the country in less than two weeks. However, in 2005 a researcher from the University of Arkansas, Dr. S. Jill James, published an article which reported findings of low glutathione levels in 75 autistic children she examined, and normal levels in a group of 75 children without developmental problems. The problem of low glutathione has been a focus of bio-medical interventions for years. I guess that information has not yet reached the wild, frontier town of Palo Alto.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Enns said, “You name the disease, you can postulate mitochondrial involvement. It’s been proposed for everything from poor vision to hearing loss, kidney disease, liver disease, autism spectrum disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancers.”
Stay tuned for next week when Stanford scientists reveal shocking evidence that the Earth is . . . round!
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.