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Light It Up BROWN For April Autism & Gut Microflora Transplantation Awareness

by Teresa Conrick

Light It Up BrownThe BLUE lights of AUTISM AWARENESS month are getting a bit depressing.  Don’t get me wrong -- it is nice that people are wanting to help and be kind to so many affected children and young adults, but the reality is that the increasing numbers are a signal that something is so -- not -- right.

We have seen many Light it up BLUE reports this year on genetic chasing, which goes nowhere, and then stories of higher functioning individuals who are able to navigate in the world.  Now those personal stories are terrific, but there are many, many left behind who are nonverbal, cannot eat many foods, have seizures, develop neuroimmune and neuropsychiatric behaviors that negatively impact them each day.

One thing that is a step in the right direction is that researchers are directing their attention to helping children and also adults with both the pain and suffering of autism.  Yes, there is pain, both physical and social-emotional. Almost 70% of those with an autism diagnosis have gastrointestinal issues that cause daily suffering. Since we keep seeing more and more studies linking the GUT to the BRAIN, it makes sense that sensory and emotional issues are deeply connected,

As we light up so many city skylines with BLUE to show our commitment in recognizing and accepting AUTISM, it is equally important to investigate causes and treatments.  I have been writing about microbiota transfer therapy (MTT) for years now, as I have a daughter severely affected, and the research seems so solid and valuable about MTT’s  impact in autism. Let’s check out this newest installment in the research - the full study, Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transfer Therapy on autism symptoms and gut microbiota

I have been impressed so much with these researchers for years now and this study shows us how correct they were:

Many studies have reported abnormal gut microbiota in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), suggesting a link between gut microbiome and autism-like behaviors. Modifying the gut microbiome is a potential route to improve gastrointestinal (GI) and behavioral symptoms in children with ASD, and fecal microbiota transplant could transform the dysbiotic gut microbiome toward a healthy one by delivering a large number of commensal microbes from a healthy donor. We previously performed an open-label trial of Microbiota Transfer Therapy (MTT) that combined antibiotics, a bowel cleanse, a stomach-acid suppressant, and fecal microbiota transplant, and observed significant improvements in GI symptoms, autism-related symptoms, and gut microbiota. Here, we report on a follow-up with the same 18 participants two years after treatment was completed. Notably, most improvements in GI symptoms were maintained, and autism-related symptoms improved even more after the end of treatment. Important changes in gut microbiota at the end of treatment remained at follow-up, including significant increases in bacterial diversity and relative abundances of Bifidobacteria and Prevotella. Our observations demonstrate the long-term safety and efficacy of MTT as a potential therapy to treat children with ASD who have GI problems, and warrant a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in the future.

Some news and science press releases had this to say:

Improved gut diversity causes 50% reduction in autism symptoms

There is a range of comorbidities observed in people with autism, and the prevalence and severity of gastrointestinal problems seemingly correlate with the severity of the core autism-related behavioral problems individuals experience….GI symptoms associated with autism include chronic constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, with gastroesophageal reflux and gastritis being reported as well…..There are currently no approved medical treatments to help the core symptoms of autism, from difficulties with social communication to repetitive behavior.

However, innovative research is being carried out concerning the gut microbiome, the community of microbes that exist in the intestines and play important roles in digestion, the immune system, and regulating the growth of harmful bacteria. Some research has suggested that the gut microbiome may also be able to relieve neurological problems as well….severity of ASD symptoms had also reduced by 47% at the end of the two-year follow-up tests….


Radical Fecal Transplant Therapy in Kids Has Reduced Their Autism Severity by 47%

A study on the effects of a form of faecal transplant therapy in children on the autism spectrum found participants not only experienced fewer gut problems, but continued to show ongoing improvements in autism symptoms two years after the procedure….But to be taken seriously as a potential therapy, there needed to be long term improvements. So a return to the original group of volunteers for another check-up was in order.

It turned out those new microbes were settling in nicely.

"In our original paper in 2017, we reported an increase in gut diversity together with beneficial bacteria after microbiota transfer therapy (MTT), and after two years, we observed diversity was even higher and the presence of beneficial microbes remained,",,,Previous studies have repeatedly pointed to the potential benefits of swapping out a 'bad' microbial communities for a better one, either through using probiotics or courses of antibiotics.

Most showed promising short-term effects, suggesting there was more to be explored when it comes to gut-based therapies.

"In many cases, when you are able to treat those gastrointestinal problems, their behaviour improves,"

Now that we're learning our neurological health is intimately connected with our digestive system, transplanting microbial communities from a healthy gut is seen as the next big thing in treating brain disorders.


“transplanting microbial communities from a healthy gut is seen as the next big thing in treating brain disorders.”


As important as that statement is, we don’t see it enough in the news or in the research.  My gratitude to these researchers, Dae-Wook Kang, James B. Adams, Devon M. Coleman, Elena L. Pollard, Juan Maldonado, Sharon McDonough-Means, J. Gregory Caporaso & Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, and other brave souls, who are helping to change the future for our loved ones.

If anyone is interested, I believe they are still recruiting adults for a similar study - Microbiota Transfer Therapy for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Who Have Gastrointestinal Disorders (MTT-ASD)


Angus Files

Thanks Teressa just about every balanced article on MTT and autism ,gives it a big thumbs up.A big thumbs up from us , thanks.

Pharma For Prison


Beleaguered Autism Mom

As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge Teresa. The best donors for fecal transplant studies are athletes. It has not been determined why athletes have the greatest diversity of bacteria, but my guess is it is due to their capacity for exercise. I think the lack of endurance for exercise in the ASD population is something that is overlooked by the research. Bob, thank you for the quote from Jean Piaget. Until someone takes a serious look at the immune system / chemical signals that are driving metabolic encephalopathy we are at a standstill. I talked to a Professor of Genetics, she said the scientific community has known since 2014 that autism is not genetic. It seems to me that should have freed up a huge sum of research funding for new avenues, but it has not. Diet and exercise can improve many conditions, but if you have food allergies or metabolic defects, depleting your cellular energy you are at a disadvantage. Bottom line, what is causing food aversion and lethargy in ASD?

Gary Ogden

Thank you, Teresa. Such important work. Nothing short of astonishing that the gut can heal the brain! You, this fine team of researchers, and the Royal Free team have been right all along.

Bob Moffit

In 2007 . Discover magazine published a lengthy article titled: "Autism .. it's not only in the head" by Jill Niemark … TEN YEARS AGO … entire article is well worth time and effort reading … unfortunately there are none so blind as those that absolutely refuse to see;

“In spite of so many years of assumptions that a brain disorder like this is not treatable, we’re helping kids get better. So it can’t just be genetic, prenatal, hardwired, and hopeless,” says Harvard pediatric neurologist Martha Herbert, author of a 14,000-word paper in the journal Clinical Neuropsychiatry that reconceptualizes the universe of autism, pulling the brain down from its privileged perch as an organ isolated from the rest of the body. Herbert is well suited to this task, a synthetic thinker who wrote her dissertation on the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget and who then went to medical school late, in her early thirties.

“I no longer see autism as a disorder of the brain but as a disorder that affects the brain,” Herbert says. “It also affects the immune system and the gut. One very striking piece of evidence many of us have noticed is that when autistic children go in for certain diagnostic tests and are told not to eat or drink anything ahead of time, parents often report their child’s symptoms improve—until they start eating again after the procedure. If symptoms can improve in such a short time frame simply by avoiding exposure to foods, then we’re looking at some kind of chemically driven ‘software’—perhaps immune system signals—that can change fast. This means that at least some of autism probably comes from a kind of metabolic encephalopathy—a systemwide process that affects the brain, just like cirrhosis of the liver affects the brain.”

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