By Teresa Conrick
On Friday, May 25, I will be one of hundreds at The Autism One Conference, who will be listening to Nobel Laureate, Luc Montagnier, M.D., describe how bacteria can be involved in Autism:
"This correlation, which is based on more than one hundred children of European origin, naturally does not prove a causal relationship. However, a therapy first started by a group of independent clinicians and now performed in conjunction with laboratory observations reinforces the idea that systemic bacterial infections play a role in the genesis of symptoms of autism. Our GPs have observed that a long-term therapy consisting of successive antibiotic treatments with accompanying medications induced in 60% of cases a significant improvement -- sometimes even a complete resolution of symptoms. These children can now lead a normal school and family life."
Needless to say, I am very excited to hear his talk and also find out about treatments aimed at helping so many sick children. My daughter is one of them which is why I keep writing about Meg's long history of infections and her recent autoimmune diagnosis. So in keeping with that theme of infections leading to immune dysfunction and autoimmunity, I wanted to share some of what I have found as I continuously search both past and present for clues.
In 1999, as I was seeing my daughter's autism symptoms become more pronounced at age 6, The New England Journal of Medicine came out with an article entitled, "MOLECULAR MIMICRY AND AUTOIMMUNITY". Of course, I never saw it until recently because back in 1999, I had no idea that Megan's Autism diagnosis could be related to her ear infections, Strep and sinus infections, and the many unnamed viral illnesses that were relentless to her body. I would never have predicted that now, at age nineteen, she would have tested positive for an autoimmune diagnosis, so seeing this article made me wonder how was it possible that research and reports on autism since 1999 did not emphasize the IMMUNE SYSTEM? Instead we are bombarded with expensive genetic studies showing little connections to the REAL issues of Autism.
Here then is an excerpt from that 1999 NEJM study showing us a haunting connection to Autism today:
"AUTOIMMUNE disease is the consequence of an immune response against self-antigens that results in the damage and eventual dysfunction of target organs. Although the triggering event in most autoimmune diseases is unknown, an infectious cause has long been postulated to explain the development of autoimmunity. Molecular mimicry is one mechanism by which infectious agents (or other exogenous substances) may trigger an immune response against autoantigens." That would be where my daughter is now. So when I saw this next paragraph, I then realized WHY the issue of the immune system, infections and autism might be minimized and even denied:
"If molecular mimicry is a biologically important phenomenon, it has important implications for vaccination. It is possible that vaccination against infectious diseases activates pathways of molecular mimicry in genetically susceptible hosts, and this may be the basis of adverse reactions to vaccines." Wow! Really? Gene research on Autism is hardly looking at genetically susceptible hosts and adverse reactions to vaccines. Many would argue too that since 1999, the increased numbers of children with an autism diagnosis may supersede a genetic influence of adverse reactions to vaccines and instead show a tipping point in number of vaccines and their ingredients.
I then found more current research implicating vaccination in autoimmune diseases. This from Johns Hopkins CME program for doctors:
"Infectious agents contribute to the environmental factors involved in the development of autoimmune diseases possibly through molecular mimicry mechanisms. Hence, it is feasible that vaccinations may also contribute to the mosaic of autoimmunity....and the recent evidence for autoimmunity following human papilloma virus vaccine. ... Recently developed vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) contain a novel Adjuvant System, AS04, which is composed of 3-O-desacyl-4′ monophosphoryl lipid A and aluminum salts. In the Danish Civil Registration system, among approximately half a million adolescent girls, 414 autoimmune disorders were listed. The 5 most common autoimmune diseases occurring within 6 weeks of vaccination among 100,000 girls were: type I diabetes, juvenile arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Henoch-Schonlein disease, and ulcerative colitis......Given the background incidence of autoimmune disorders in some of the groups targeted for immunization with these vaccines, it is likely that autoimmune events will be reported in temporal association with vaccination, even in the absence of a causal relationship."
In addition to Autism and its connections to bacterial/viral infections, I have written about PANDAS and PANS as they too have their devastating symptoms related also to bacteria and viruses. At the Autism One Conference in 2010, we heard about molecular mimicry from Madeleine Cunnigham, PhD and about autoimmunity and Strep infections from Susan Swedo, MD so the issues of bacteria and viruses setting up long term pathogenic residency in the bodies of kids is being investigated, yet the treatments and guidelines for prevention of this devastating process is excruciatingly slow to appear. Dr. Cunningham made this enormously important statement -- “If autoantibodies are proven to affect behaviors, it will change the way we think about and treat mental disorders forever” -- yet its importance seems to be minimized by those who may not want to let Autism, PANDAS/PANS and many other neuropsychiatric diseases out of the clutches of mental illness and the subsequent pharmacological goldmine being built around them.
Medical illness manifesting as mental illness is not new but the implications and loss of revenue as people begin to treat these disorders via the immune system rather than strictly with psychotropic drugs may produce some ill feelings from those invested in dollars rather than the value of human life. Interestingly, some "mental illness" drugs may actually and secretly target the immune system, trying to get your dollars while saying they alleviate psychosis but really work on modulating the immune system :
"There is considerable evidence that schizophrenia is associated with immune system dysregulation. For example, blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of proinflammatory cytokines are significantly increased in schizophrenic patients, and their normalization correlates with improvement in psychotic symptoms...... These results suggest the unique efficacy of atypical antipsychotics in the suppression of proinflammatory cytokines, and the increase of anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10."
The BIG problem - HUGE and scary side effects! I just read up and reported on that plus it is becoming evident that those who have these "mental illnesses" are responding to true immune treatments with no side effects:
"Scientists shocked to find antibiotics alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia - Chance discovery of link between acne drug and psychosis may unlock secrets of mental illness" - The Independent, Friday 02 March 2012
"The research follows case reports from Japan in which the drug [antibiotic] was prescribed to patients with schizophrenia who had infections and led to dramatic improvements in their psychotic symptoms.
The chance observation caused researchers to test the drug in patients with schizophrenia around the world. Trials in Israel, Pakistan and Brazil have shown significant improvement in patients treated with the drug."
One person who has been trying for years to stop the discussion of adverse vaccination outcomes and autoimmunity is Paul Offit M.D. Here he tried to present evidence that vaccines DO NOT cause autoimmunity. The mere fact he is DENYING AUTOIMMUNITY should raise a red flag for all because if Paul Offit makes an appearance, rest assured, we are on to something important.
What this all means is that more truth, treatments and hope are on the horizon, my friends. Never give up and see you at Autism One!
Teresa Conrick is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.