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Minocycline and Autism: This Antibiotic Is Not Just For Acne Anymore

MinoclyclineBy Teresa Conrick

Every week, more and more information is coming out that autism is not, just some spectrum of developmental disability.  Here we see in Newsweek a recent announcement: 


The beginning of it goes into a strange array of gene talk but then the focus of the article is this---

Some signals associated with a cell type called microglia were far higher in the samples from people with autism than from samples of people with other conditions. This signal may be higher because the microglia are more active. If that’s true, an antibiotic that reduces their activity could be one way to treat the condition—which is what UCLA Health psychiatrist and one of the authors of the study, Dr. Michael Gandal, is testing right now....

He and his colleagues are working to recruit about 30 adults for a brain-imaging study to look at their microglia and take an antibiotic called minocycline for 12 weeks.

“Throughout the 12 weeks, we measure a set of cognitive tasks, and we repeat the brain imaging," he said. "The idea is to look at how levels of inflammation in the brain relate to cognitive and behavioral function in individuals with autism.”

Here is that Clinical Trial -

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are highly disabling, persistent neurodevelopmental disorders. There are no available treatments for core symptoms of ASD or biologically-based clinical biomarkers. Emerging evidence indicates that levels of brain inflammation are increased in ASD. In particular, recent work implicates hyperactivity of microglial cells, the resident immune cells of the brain. However, the functional consequences of microglial activation remain unknown. This study will measure microglial activation in ASD using positron emission tomography (PET) brain imaging. Adult males with ASD (n=15) and healthy controls (n=15) will be recruited for this study and undergo comprehensive clinical and behavioral baseline assessment. All subjects will then undergo baseline PET imaging using a radiotracer that labels activated microglia. Subjects with ASD will then undergo 12-week open label treatment with minocycline, an FDA-approved antibiotic thought to block microglial activation. PET imaging will be repeated at 12 weeks to confirm target engagement. A subset of control subjects will also undergo repeat PET imaging to determine test-retest reliability. During minocycline treatment, ASD subjects will be evaluated every 2 weeks for safety, clinical impression, behavioral functioning, and measures of cognition. Results will provide important information regarding the relationship between levels of brain inflammation, cognitive and behavioral function in ASD.

I am hoping that more candidates can join as it looks like almost a year since it's been updated.  Let's take a look at Minocycline and see if we can't get more people excited and involved in this type of research.

It's been about six years since I really started putting a focus on autism and bacterial infections. Because I have a daughter who has a diagnosis of autism and also an autoimmune diagnosis, the immune system has become a key player in my research to help her.  The MICROBIOME research has exploded and its connection to the MICROGLIA of the brain may be a big part in autism spectrum disorders.

There are far too many children and young adults who suffer.  The list of painful and debilitating symptoms grows as parents watch in agony.  Patterns tend to emerge:














☤  Particular case studies also link antibiotic treatment to improvements in ASD behaviors and comorbid conditions (51). In addition, the antibiotics D-cycloserine and minocycline are promising in light of their ability to treat behavioral symptoms of ASD in clinical trials and animal models (52–54). Although both antibiotics are used to treat infections, their neuroprotective effects are commonly attributed to their roles as partial N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor agonist and microglial activation inhibitor, respectively. Read here.

This type of research is crucial to help so MANY.  We need more treatments for these very ILL people. It is not a mental illness that afflicts them but instead, a gut and brain, hijacked by a DYSFUNCTIONAL MICROBIOME.  

Can they be helped?  Plenty of research is showing that to be true. Let's take a look at Minocycline.  I do want to add that we need to consider that the way Minocycline might be helping is by killing bacteria in the gut.  Remember that the microbiome has control over the microglia  :

☤   Mazmanian’s group 9 have investigated the genesis of PD [ Parkinson's Disease ] features in mice genetically engineered to overexpress alpha-synuclein, which go on to develop features of PD. These mice are now one of the most widely used animal models in studying the disorder. Intriguingly, when they are raised germ-free (i.e., without gut microbes), their tendency to develop motor abnormalities is significantly reduced. When they are given a combination of short chain fatty acids, on the other hand, they show microglial activation in the brain and aggregation of alpha-synuclein with onset of motor features. These changes are inhibited by treatment with the antibiotic minocycline, which acts on a broad range of bacteria. If germ free alpha-synuclein overexpressing animals are given a humanized microbiota from a patient with PD, the emergency of pathology is far greater than those transplanting with the microbiota from a healthy subject. These findings pinpoint several potential lines of treatment, including the use of short-chain fatty acid antagonists, antibiotics, and microbiota transplantation.  Read here.

☤   ...minocycline has been shown to be fairly well tolerated over longer periods of treatment and, as such, should be considered to be another option for the treatment of depression."  Read here.

☤   One hypothesis claims that depression, or subsets of this disorder, is a microglial disorder, as the onset of depression often follows intense inflammatory episodes in the brain or, conversely, decline in microglial function (Yirmiya et al., 2015). Interestingly, minocycline, a tetracycline antibacterial agent known to inhibit the activation of microglia, can diminish depressive behaviors in rodents (Molina-Herna´ ndez et al., 2008; Zheng et al., 2015b) and humans (Miyaoka et al., 2012) and has been suggested as a potent antidepressant. In light of recent evidence on the role of the microbiome in microglia maturation and activation (Erny et al., 2015; Matcovitch-Natan et al., 2016), it is compelling to speculate that the microbiome impacts depression by influencing microglial maturation and activation. It should be noted, however, that it is yet to be determined whether the antidepressive effects of minocycline are due to its antimicrobial properties, inhibition of microglial activation, or a combination of the two.  Read here.

☤  It was proposed that minocycline, a second-generation tetracycline, inhibits microglial activation and therefore affects neurodegenerative, neuropsychiatric and inflammatory diseases.102,103 However, it is not yet clarified how this ‘inhibition’ is generated. Orally administered minocycline can certainly affect the composition of the gut microbiota but is also well-absorbed and is able to penetrate the brain parenchyma and could inhibit microglia independent of the abundance of the microbiota.104 There is some evidence that minocycline attenuates the nuclear factor-jB pathway in microglia in vitro but the exact mechanism is not understood.105   Read here. 

☤  antibiotic treatment alone using minocycline was able to “rebalance” the microbiota and was associated with blood pressure reduction. Read here.  

 In MS, it is believed that minocycline works in an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective manner. It may also work by influencing the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, known as the microbiome. Minocycline is known to improve the balance of organisms in the microbiome to be more anti-inflammatory.  Read here.

☤  Importantly, note that whereas minocycline may promote autoimmune suppression by modulation of the intestinal microflora to repair the dysbiosis observed in MS patient, it can also have multiple direct immune-modulating effects that could contribute to the observed protection. Although minocycline may or may not ultimately prove beneficial in the context of MS, other oral antibiotics or combinations of antibiotics could be considered or developed in the future to promote anti-inflammatory communication along the gut–brian axis. Indeed, vancomycin was shown to improve the symptoms of autism in 8 out of 10 children studied (93).  Read here.

Minocycline, an antibiotic of the tetracycline family, has been shown to display neurorestoractive or neuroprotective properties in various models of neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, it has been shown to delay motor alterations, inflammation and apoptosis in models of Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Despite controversies about its efficacy, the relative safety and tolerability of minocycline have led to the launching of various clinical trials. Previously, we reported the antipsychotic effects of minocycline in patients with schizophrenia.  Read here.

I will also mention that a study was done on Regressive Autism and Minocycline Read here..  It took 9 years it appears, to determine that 10 children did not benefit.  There was no placebo study group and no exclusions based on other medications so not sure that was a good way to evaluate Minocycline.

Minocycline has been used for decades to help with acne .  Science now is showing that acne, along with other skin conditions, may have its origin in the gut microbiome:

☤  There is emerging evidence linking certain dermatological disorders to gut dysbiosis. However, this is not a novel topic and in fact, in 1911 a gastroenterologist named Milton H. Mack wrote, “Acne and eczema are both traceable to this fountainhead of diseases… if in a case of urticarial we look to the intestinal tract, why not in eczema and acne?” [25]. Simultaneous gut and skin microbiome dysbiosis has been observed in several inflammatory skin diseases, such as rosacea, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis[26]. Read here.

SO as we near the month of APRIL and the BLUE LIGHTS to raise awareness of AUTISM, there are thousands of families drowning in fear and worry.  The media shies away from these families as they do not understand THIS side of autism.  They are not “feel good” stories about autism.  It is tragic and the need for proper medical treatments is imperative.  Minocycline may be a very hopeful intervention, especially as we see the increasing evidence of the autism specrum being connected to the spectrum of microbiome dysfunction.

Teresa Conrick is Science Editor for Age of Autism.


Gary Ogden

Teresa: Very interesting interview posted today on Mike Mutzel interviews Jong Rho, M.D. about the health-promoting effects of ketogenic diets. At minutes 26 and 37 they discuss the microbiome and autism. Well worth a watch.

Tim Lundeen

@Teresa thanks for the suramin update!


It also concerns me when Pharma will profit further every time their products become “the cure” for the health issues they created in the first place.

Ditto! Dr Humphries posted this article regarding autoimmune disease:

Thank you Mrs Conrick, Mrs Hayes and Dr Humphries for all the brilliant information you disseminate!


Minocycline has been proven effective for some cases of Autism Related Catatonia as well. It all has to do with reducing the brain inflammation. Predictably, dealing with the GI issues any long term antibiotic (especially tetracyclines) can cause in our kids needs to be kept in mind too and addressed.


Why can't a lot of this really be food allergies?

Laura Hayes


Thank you for the link! Glad to see the use of essential oils, vs. pharmaceuticals, is being tested for treating Lyme Disease. Let the non-pharmaceutical healing begin!

Teresa  Conrick

Regarding comments about Suramin. Not sure how or why there is so much urban legend but here is the accurate update:

Last year, we posted about Dr.Robert Naviaux’s success with the 100 year old drug suramin in a small double-blind, placebo controlled trial of children with autism. All the children who received a single dose of suramin showed improvements in the core symptoms of autism. You can read the parent stories of improvements in their children here, but these are some of the improvements that were seen –

· new language

· longer and more complex spontaneous sentences

· improvements in voice quality

· improved appetite

· less picky eating

· interest in trying new things

· greater resilience to changes in routine

· increased social interaction with other children including playing games.

This study was small due to a lack of funding. Funding was entirely from private donations. Larger, carefully designed clinical trials are needed to replicate the results, learn how to use low-dose suramin safely in autism, identify drug interactions as well as detect rare side effects and collect all the data that the FDA requires to approve the use of suramin in autism.

After the success of the initial small trial, we had hoped it would be quick and easy to raise money to fund the path to FDA approval. As some of you know, the road has been much longer and rockier than anyone expected. However, we finally have good news! Read on for an update.

Suramin Autism Trial Update – Q&A with Dr. Naviaux

What is the status of the suramin autism trial(s) – has funding been found? If so, when will the trials start?
Dr.Naviaux: I am very happy to share that a biotech company, backed by very reputable investors with a proven track record, has agreed to make suramin and fund the next autism trials.

Unfortunately, Bayer decided not to provide suramin for the proposed clinical trials in autism. So, the biotech company that will be funding the trials has agreed to manufacture suramin. They will also collect all the data that the FDA needs in order to approve the drug for use in autism.

It will take about a year for suramin to be available from this biotech company. Even factoring in the year that it will take for suramin to be ready, we expect that this will be a much faster and smoother path to FDA approval than attempting to fund each step through charitable donations.

The company will make a public announcement when suramin is available for the next clinical trials. (Per the legal agreement that the Naviaux Lab has with this company, their name cannot be disclosed until then.) The suramin autism treatment 2 (SAT2) trials will start as soon as suramin is available.

We are hopeful that the new supplier of suramin will, in the long run, offer a simpler path forward and fewer potential delays in testing. If future clinical trials show that suramin is safe and effective in treating autism, then the FDA will have all the data they need to make a decision on approval in a shorter period of time than before. Ultimately, this means that the drug can become available for patients with autism or ME/CFS faster than was possible before.

We appreciate your support on the long road we traveled trying to raise funds for this trial. We are very grateful for all your donations, which have helped support the lab while this important agreement was being worked out.

Can you describe the trials that are planned? How many patients, what age, what gender etc.? Will there be a multi-dose trial or just the bigger trial?
Dr.Naviaux: Several clinical trials will be needed. The first two will test a few doses of suramin given monthly for a few months. These will be done in about 50 boys, ages 5-17 years old. The exact ages have not yet been decided. After that, a study will be done that will include girls with ASD. Other studies will look at drug-drug interactions so we know if suramin interacts with drugs that are commonly used in ASD. The last clinical trial that the FDA will need will be a Phase III, multicenter trial in 200 or more participants. The multicenter trial will test the safety and efficacy of several doses of suramin given monthly for several months.

Will suramin be available on a compassionate use basis prior to FDA approval?
Dr.Naviaux: This is not known yet. The safety and efficacy of several doses of suramin must be shown first.

How long will it take to get FDA approval?
Dr.Naviaux: This will depend on the results of the next few studies. In principle, it usually takes about 5 years to complete all the needed studies after the first feasibility study. This would include the time to conduct and analyze the results of the required multicenter, Phase III study. If the next studies showed that suramin was exceptionally safe and effective at the doses used, this time might be decreased by a year or two.

Here’s to smooth sailing ahead
After many roadblocks and funding challenges, we are happy that a path has finally emerged for suramin to be extensively tested in autism! Here’s wishing Dr. Naviaux and his biotech partners a smooth and quick path for testing suramin, and if proven safe and effective, winning the FDA approvals needed to make it widely available to children with autism.
Want to learn more about suramin in autism? Check out the Naviaux Lab page on autism research.

Want even MORE info? Watch Dr. Naviaux’s talk on suramin from the TACA National Autism Conference in 2017:


1 in 361 in 68Autismautism is treatableChange the Worlddr robert naviauxheroeshopeRecoverysuraminTACATalk About Curing AutismTreating autismtreatment

Mary Davenport

Is this related to Lyme or borrelia perhaps? Doxycycline, a similar antibiotic, is known to help with Lyme.

Angus Files

GcMAF and also the MAF Cream are very good.We used them both on our son who had a face full of acne that resembled a pizza(we love him dearly).The MAF cream rubbed onto the severe acne on his face was vanished and also from all over his back. Gc MAF and MAF both a natural product.At the same time both products calmed him he wasn't so agitated.

Pharma For Prison


Tim Lundeen

@Beleaguered Autism Mom

Where did you hear that the suramin studies had been shut down? Thx.

Beleaguered Autism Mom

Pharma is financing the UCLA study. The goal of the study is to prove antibiotics don't work. To counteract the enthusiasm generated by the Suramin study. There will be no results published that would cause people to further question what is really happening to the immune system under the current vaccination policy-for-profit system.
A biotech firm paid the author of the Suramin study to sign a non-disclosure agreement and we will never hear anything more about it.
Nobody is allowed to look at the solution because doing so, reveals the cause - over vaccination.
I think the best we can do is band together as parents and publish our results for each natural antimicrobial. Similar to the one Autism Research Institute published in 2009.


research on essential oils for antimicrobial purpose by Dr Ying Zhang at John Hopkins.
so far just testing in lab for activity against Borrelia Burgdorferi B31, but research will be proceeding.

Hans Litten

I agree I have the same fears about the suramin claims. I am happy to be wrong however.
Why is it all taking so long ? Why can we get no answers from anyone ?

But then I was interested in a website called
for a while , only for this chap Peter Lloyd Thomas to go nuclear against the Geiers and accuse them of profiting from autism treatment , and then this damn criminal PLT (writing out of Serbia or somewhere) went onto to the laud the angel of medicine Paul Offit .

Laura Hayes


My concern with the use of a pharmaceutically-made antibiotic is that further damage to the gut will be caused by it, in essence, adding fuel to the fire.

It also concerns me when Pharma will profit further every time their products become “the cure” for the health issues they created in the first place. I haven’t looked to see who has funded these studies, but my concern is that Pharma is involved.

Do you know if there have been studies in which natural antibiotics, such as garlic, oregano oil, coconut oil, etc., have been used and tested in the same regard as the minocycline?

bob moffit

“Throughout the 12 weeks, we measure a set of cognitive tasks, and we repeat the brain imaging," he said. "The idea is to look at how levels of inflammation in the brain relate to cognitive and behavioral function in individuals with autism.”

It would be extremely beneficial to "scientifically prove" that "low levels of inflammation in the brain relate to cognitive function in individuals with autism" .. because .. that discovery should then initiate a serious investigation as to what is "causing" that low level of inflammation in brains?

Surely it can't be caused by "genetics"?

Unfortunately, in all likelihood .. this critical information regarding "low levels of inflammation in the brain" .. would not alter the prevailing "scientific explanation" for the dramatic increase in autism .. the latest figures being 1 in 68 .. 1 in 42 for boys alone .. being purely the result of "better diagnosing" and a "broader definition" of the autism spectrum.

Consider .. just yesterday .. a NY Post editorial .. "One Small Win for Science" .. praised Rep. Carolyn Maloney for "finally seeing the light", after years of buying into the "myth" that vaccines cause autism .. regurgitating the predictable .. shopworn, tired argument .. that "science" has not found any evidence to link autism with vaccines".


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