Although my daughter is not a patient of Dr. Jeff Bradstreet I've always had an enormous amount of respect for the good doctor. I'll usually go on his website once or twice a month to find out what has most recently attracted his interest. Often it seems we're looking at similar questions; which either means great minds think alike, or we suffer from some of the same delusions.
I was intrigued by his October 11, 2011 entry, "An Update on Viral Issue in Autism" since it dovetailed with some of my own recent investigations.
In the past months Dr. Bradstreet has become interested in nagalese, which he describes as an enzyme "produced by cancer cells and viruses." He thinks it unlikely that children with autism have undiagnosed cancers, and thus suspicion falls on a viral etiology. Dr. Bradstreet writes, "Viruses make the nagalese enzyme as part of their attachment proteins. It serves to get the virus into the cell and also decreases the body's immune reaction to the virus-thereby increasing the odds of viral survival."
Further on Dr. Bradstreet writes, "It is reasonable and likely that the nature of the immune dysfunction and the frequently observed autoimmune problems in autism are mediated by persistent, unresolved viral infections." He claims to have tested approximately 400 children with autism for the viral marker, nagalese, and found that nearly 80% have significantly elevated levels. He hopes to publish soon on this study and believes this information "is one of the most important developments in the clinical treatment of children on the spectrum that I have experienced in the last 15 years."
Dr. Bradstreet's article got my attention because of my daughter's own nagalese testing. I had her tested back in May (when she'd endured three hospitalizations due to uncontrolled seizures) and her reading was 3.3 (reference range 0.35-0.95). In desparation we tried the ketogenic diet (high fats and low carbs), and although there have been some rough patches since May we have avoided further hospitalizations.
And her stools normalized.
Yes, I know all of you realize how important that is. We're talking months and months of good stools. Seizures down at least 80%. So of course, your friendly neighborhood science teacher was interested in what her nagalese levels might be, so we did a retest in late September. This time her reading was 1.7. It was about a 50% drop, and while it's still abnormal, it is progress. It makes me wonder if a low-carb diet starves viruses of an energy source.
There are critics of nagalese testing. Dr. Enlander, a specialist in chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, another disease which may be viral in origin, doesn't believe the tests are sensitive enough to be of any value. And he may be right.
Dr. Bradstreet also discusses a substance called GcMAF, which I don't have enough information about to make an informed judgment, and that after viral clearance, the possibility of using neuronal stem cells which can cross the blood-brain barrier. I really can't comment on the advisability of either suggestion.
But if you are like me, still looking for that clue which might help your child join the ranks of the recovered, you might investigate nagalese.
Kent Heceknlively is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism