Sunday, 7 July 2013

Learning from Comorbidities in Autism

You might have been wondering why there has been a pause in my blog posts; rather than post nonsense, I have been exploring some new directions.

The current combination of bumetanide + NAC + atorvastatin does continue to be effective, but clearly there can be more.

I recently read a paper by a researcher who concluded that he thought autism was so heterogeneous there might well never be a drug therapy for autism.  I certainly see where he is coming from, but I think this tells us two things:-
1.      Do not expect conventional medical research to come up with an autism drug any time soon.
2.      It would be wise to read up on the medical research outside the realm of autism, where perhaps a more can-do approach and better resourcing might be evident.

This brings me to comorbidities.  In case you are not familiar with this term, in medicine, comorbidity is the presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease.

In the case of autism frequent comorbidities include asthma, high cholesterol and seizures/epilepsy.
I decided to start with asthma, since Monty, aged 9 and with ASD, has mild asthma and I am already familiar with the range of treatments.

I somewhat fancifully hypothesized that there would be an overlap in effective drug therapies for autism and asthma; in other words what works for core autism treatment would be effective in asthma and vice versa.  Having been able to validate my hypothesis, I moved on to look at other comorbidities.  I am currently looking at three areas.
1.       Asthma and COPD

Asthma affects 300 million people worldwide and kills about 250,000 people ayear.  COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a more severe form of asthma and is the third leading cause of death in the US.

I figured that since these conditions are life threatening and widespread in developed counties, they would be well researched and drug therapies actively sought.

2.       High Cholesterol

The effects of high cholesterol are very well studied in cardiology, though not in autism.   The emerging understanding from cardiology is the causal link between cholesterol formation and neuroinflammation.  A little known fact is that elevated cholesterol is the norm in autism; people have asked me why, now I know and soon so will you.

3.       Seizures and epilepsy

 It is well known that many people with autism also have epilepsy.  There are many kinds of epilepsy and seizure; two types particularly interested me - absence seizures and non-convulsive seizures.  More of this later.

Subequent posts will present what I have learnt.
But now for a change of subject  and an interesting link ...

Common autism drug therapy in the US

If you do not live in the US, you may be unaware just how many drugs and supplements some autistic children receive.  It seems that in the US, 70% of autistic children take at least 10 different potions.  Not surprising, many of these can interact with each other.

If you are curious to see what some of these drugs are and what the common interactions are, you will find the following paper very interesting.  Its author, Theoharis C. Theoharides, has already appeared on this blog and he will appear again when we look at asthma and immunomodulation.


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