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Showing posts with label Ponstan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ponstan. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 November 2018

What, When and Where of Autism – Critical Periods and Sensitive Periods



When time is of the essence

All kinds of dysfunctions may appear in autistic brains, which in itself make it a highly complex condition. There is also the when and where aspects of these dysfunctions, which often gets overlooked, or lost in oversimplification.
This then has to fit into the concept of critical periods, that I introduced in an earlier post. 

Critical periods are times during the brain’s development when it is particularly vulnerable to any disturbance, for example an excitatory/inhibitory imbalance.
This then leads to another related concept which is that of sensitive periods; these are periods when the person should be responsive to particular therapy.
Sensitive periods are very important to be understood by those planning clinical trials, because a therapy may indeed be effective only when given within a specific time window. During this time the person is sensitive to the therapy, but they will not be a responder after the time window has passed.
I am pleased to say that more research is beginning to consider the when aspect and not just the what aspect of biological dysfunction in autism.
The where aspect reflects the fact that in one part of the brain there might be, say, NMDA hypofunction, while in another part the opposite is present, NMDA hyperfunction.  Since most therapies come as pills you swallow, you cannot treat one part of the brain for one problem and another part of the brain for the opposite problem. There is currently no way around this issue, you just have to do what is best for the brain overall. In practical terms it means you may make one problem better, but create a new one. 


New research in a mouse model suggests that the drug rapamycin can reverse autism-like social deficits -- but only if given early. The study is the first to shed light on the crucial timing of therapy to improve social impairments in a condition associated with autism spectrum disorder. Its findings could help inform future clinical trials in children with tuberous sclerosis complex. 

Full Paper:

  

Mefenamic Acid
I have mentioned mefenamic acid (Ponstan) in several posts. It is the only human autism therapy currently in development that has a treatment window.  It is suggested that the sensitive period to take this drug is the second year of life, to avoid severe non-verbal autism. 

Conclusion
The good news is that we have seen time and again that it is never too late to treat autism. Clearly the earlier you do start, the more extensive the long term benefit should be. So once you realize that intervention is possible, best not to delay.
When autism  is of a single gene origin, there really should eventually be scope to make some kind of permanent fix, if you can intervene very early and so still during that intervention’s sensitive period.  This might involve something very clever like gene editing, which you cannot do at home, or it might be just some drug therapy, like Rapamycin in TSC1 as in the above study.





Wednesday, 31 October 2018

TSO for Autism with Allergies? Published after 5 years - Also Ponstan again


As we know, things often do not move fast in the world of medical research, at least when it comes to autism.
Back in 2014 I wrote some posts about a novel immuno-modulatory therapy, based on TSO, a harmless gut parasite, developed for autism by one parent. He then shared it with Eric Hollander at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Then a small biotech company called Coronado, tried to develop TSO to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions, including autism.

A pilot trial in autism was funded by the Simons Foundation and Coronado.
Coronado did not achieve the desired results in their ulcerative colitis TSO trials, so their share price took a dive and they later changed their name to Fortress Biotech. It looks like they have given up on TSO.
The autism Dad, Stewart Johnson, who originally came up with the idea has not updated his TSO website since 2011.


I do wonder if he continues to give TSO to his son. The good thing is that he fully documented his son's treatment, shared it with a leading autism researcher and has left the information in the public domain.    
The research data from the pilot trial has finally been published.


OBJECTIVES:

Inflammatory mechanisms are implicated in the etiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and use of the immunomodulator Trichuris Suis Ova (TSO) is a novel treatment approach. This pilot study determined the effect sizes for TSO vs. placebo on repetitive behaviors, irritability and global functioning in adults with ASD.

METHODS:

A 28-week double-blind, randomized two-period crossover study of TSO vs. placebo in 10 ASD adults, ages 17 to 35, was completed, with a 4-week washout between each 12-week period at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Subjects with ASD, history of seasonal, medication or food allergies, Y-BOCS ≥ 6 and IQ ≥70 received 2500 TSO ova or matching placebo every two weeks of each 12-week period.

RESULTS:

Large effect sizes for improvement in repetitive behaviors (d = 1.0), restricted interests (d = 0.82), rigidity (d = 0.79), and irritability (d = 0.78) were observed after 12 weeks of treatment. No changes were observed in the social-communication domain. Differences between treatment groups did not reach statistical significance. TSO had only minimal, non-serious side effects.

CONCLUSIONS: 

This proof-of-concept study demonstrates the feasibility of TSO for the treatment of ASD, including a favorable safety profile, and moderate to large effect sizes for reducing repetitive behaviors and irritability.


some excerpts:-

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by marked deficits in two core symptom domains: social-communication, and repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Current literature supports a link between neuroinflammation, imbalanced immune responses, and ASD. Characteristic cytokine profiles of Th2 anti-inflammatory and Th1 proinflammatory cytokine responses have been reported in ASD. Additionally, some individuals with ASD demonstrate an amelioration of symptoms during fever episodes. This suggests a role for immune-inflammatory factors, as fever is a cardinal symptom of infectious and inflammatory processes, and induces the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines which are part of an autoregulatory loop. Early in neurodevelopment, microglia play a protective role in promoting neurogenesis, suppressing inflammation and eliminating inhibitory synapses. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are known to activate microglia, which in turn secretes cytokines that participate in the inflammation process. There is evidence for neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and white matter of individuals with ASD, which relates to an increase of glial-derived cytokines. Additionally, viral infection during pregnancy correlates with increased frequency of ASD in offspring. This is modeled in rodents subjected to maternal immune activation (MIA), which results in autism-like behavioral abnormalities in their offspring.

Both T helper 17 (TH17) cells and the effector cytokine interleukin-17a (IL-17a), are present in mothers who have MIA-induced behavioral abnormalities in their offspring. In this animal model of MIA, the abnormal autistic-like behavior in offspring is prevented by maternal treatment with an anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 antibody. Additionally, recent studies suggest that therapeutic targeting of TH17 cells in susceptible pregnant mothers may reduce the likelihood of bearing children with inflammation-induced ASD-like phenotypes. In sum, due to the inflammatory mechanisms implicated in the development and symptomatology of ASD, immunomodulatory interventions should be explored as an experimental therapeutics’ pathway.

The study of helminth worms, such as Trichuris Suis Ova (TSO), for the treatment of autoimmune disorders emerged from the “hygiene hypothesis”. This hypothesis states that stimulation of the immune system by infectious agents, such as microbes that stimulate normal immune responses, is protective against the development of inflammatory diseases, and that due to a rise in hygiene in urban settings there are less protective microbes in humans. This subsequently leads to an increase in autoimmune inflammatory disorders, including multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergic rhinitis and possibly ASD. The interaction of the developing immune system with microorganisms, including helminths, may be an important component of normal immune system maturation. TSO has been studied in clinical trials of other immune-inflammatory disorders such as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis with mixed results. This is the first such study in ASD or any neurodevelopmental disorder.  

The porcine whipworm TSO is proposed to work through multiple mechanisms, including interference with antigen presentation, cell proliferation and activation, antibody production, and modulation of dendritic cells. In addition to the induction of regulatory cells, TSO may modify the cytokine profiles released by the local inflammatory cells. Helminths, including TSO, are well known to induce tolerance in their hosts via differential modulation of increased anti-inflammatory Th2 cytokine (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13) and decreased pro-inflammatory Th1 and Th17 cytokine (IL-1, IL-12, IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-6) responses. Th2 cell induction leads to strong IgE, mast cell and eosinophil response, while cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 trigger intestinal mucous secretion, enhance smooth muscle contractibility, and stimulate fluid secretion in the intestinal lumen. Additional studies have shown that a similar exposure to TSO results in the augmentation of the anti-inflammatory Th2 response, a dampening of the toll-like receptor (TLR)-induced proinflammatory Th1 and Th17 responses, and an increased presence of myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells, which are antigen producing cells that stimulate T-cells.

Our subjects were part of an ASD subgroup, and were high functioning adults, as defined by an IQ greater than 70, with a history of seasonal, medication, or food allergies, and/or a family history of autoimmune illness. Thus, results may not be generalizable to a larger more heterogeneous ASD population.

This study suggests that immune-modulating agents could be a useful therapeutic approach to address certain domains in individuals with ASD. Those that will benefit the most are likely to have marked restricted and repetitive behaviors and irritability. Future studies are needed to replicate these preliminary findings in larger samples, and effect sizes support future trials with 25 subjects per group in a parallel design study. Alternatively, they could be completed in a younger population, stratified for higher baseline severity, and using other immunomodulatory agents.  

Conclusions 

This trial provided key data necessary for planning further definitive studies of TSO in the ASD population. TSO was observed to improve symptoms in the restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior domain of ASD. These symptoms map onto the positive valence systems and cognitive systems of the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoc) matrix, which provides an integrative research framework for the study of mental disorders. Specifically, the Approach Motivation, Habit and Cognitive Control constructs of the matrix are targeted by TSO. Future trials should continue to integrate the RDoc framework, and be conducted in more homogeneous syndromal forms of ASD with marked immune and microglial abnormalities. 

Acknowledgements:

This work was supported by the Simons Foundation under Grant number 206808, and by Coronado Biosciences. Coronado Biosciences also provided both TSO and the matching placebo. This data was presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (2015, Poster 20516), and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Conference (2013, Panel and Poster T177).  


My posts related to parasites and autism are below. The role of the ion channel Kv1.3 is interesting.


                            

Personalized Medicine
The problem with personalized medicine, like Stewart Johnson and the TSO treatment for his son, is that it may be just too personalized to apply to most other people.  As a result, investing money in the many possible autism treatments is a highly risky business. Many potential autism treatments like, Arbaclofen, are stumbled upon by accident or in a n=1 trial. 
Our reader Knut Wittkowski has got backing for his mefenamic acid-based therapy to halt the progress of autism to severe and non-verbal.
He made a deal with Q BioMed and the drug is now called QBM-001.  The idea was to modify the already existing painkiller Ponstan (which is OTC in many countries) so that it had reduced side effects and most importantly can be patented.


The treatment window during which the child is sensitive to the effects of the drug is proposed to be 12-24 months.
Q BioMed want to submit an orphan drug application in 2019. The problem with that is that autism is now very common and it is hard to see how an autism drug for children up to 2 years of age would qualify. You cannot really tell at 12 months if someone is going to have mild or severe autism, so you would have to give it to everyone with a diagnosis.
Orphan drugs are for rare conditions and have stronger/longer patent protection to allow drug developers to get their money back. 
Nonetheless, good luck to Knut. 
The original post on Ponstan and Knut’s work.


Ponstan is widely available outside of the US. It is particularly good at lowering temperature in children during fevers.

Sensitive periods and treatment windows are the topics of a forthcoming post. We did earlier look at critical periods, which are key times during the development of the brain.  It is important to know when these are, because you need to have your therapy in place at these times. Sensitive periods are the time periods when a therapy can be effective. Correcting some defects is only possible within these critical windows and this needs to be understood by those planning clinical trials.

Knut is a rare researcher who has fully grasped this.









Friday, 3 June 2016

Mefenamic acid (Ponstan) for some Autism


Caution:-

Ponstan (Mefenamic Acid) contains a warning:-
Caution should be exercised when treating patients suffering from epilepsy.

At lower doses Ponstan is antiepileptic, but at high doses it can have the opposite effect.  This effect depends on the biological origin of the seizures.
In an earlier post I wrote about a paper by Knut Wittkowski who applied statistics to interpret the existing genetic data on autism. 


“Autism treatments proposed by clinical studies and human genetics are complementary” & the NSAID Ponstan as a Novel AutismTherapy




His analysis suggested the early use of Fenamate drugs could potentially reduce the neurological anomalies that develop in autism as the brain develops.  The natural question arose in the comments was to whether it is too late to use Fenamates in later life.

Knut was particularly looking at a handful of commonly affected genes (ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1) where defects should partially be remedied by use of fenamates.

I recently received a comment from a South African reader who finds that his children’s autism improves when he gives them Ponstan and he wondered why.  Ponstan (Mefenamic Acid) is a fenamate drug often used in many countries as a pain killer, particularly in young children.

Ponstan is a cheap NSAID-type drug very widely used in some countries and very rarely used in other countries like the US.  It is available without prescription in some English-speaking countries (try a pharmacy in New Zealand, who sell online) and, as Petra has pointed out, it is widely available in Greece.

I did some more digging and was surprised what other potentially very relevant effects Ponstan has.  Ponstan affects GABAA receptors, where it is a positive allosteric modulator (PAM).  This may be very relevant to many people with autism because we have seen that fine-tuning the response of the sub-units that comprise GABAA receptors you can potentially improve cognition and also modulate anxiety. 

Anxiety seems to be a core issue in Asperger’s, whereas in Classic Autism, or Strict Definition Autism (SDA) the core issue is often actually cognitive function rather than “autism” as such.

In this post I will bring together the science showing why Ponstan should indeed be helpful in some types of autism.

Professor Ritvo from UCLA read Knut’s paper and also the bumetanide research and suggested that babies could be treated with Ponstan and then, later on, with  Bumetanide.

Autism treatments proposed by clinical studies and human genetics are complementary



I do not think the professor or Knut are aware of Ponstan’s effect on GABA.

The benefits from Ponstan may very well be greater if given to babies at risk of autism, but there does seem to be potential benefit for older children and adults, depending on their type of autism.

Professor Ritvo points out that that Ponstan is safely used in 6 month old babies, so trialing it in children and adults with autism should not be troubling.

Being an NSAID, long term use at high doses may well cause GI side effects.  An open question is the dosage at which Ponstan modulates the calcium activated ion channels that are implicated in some autism and also what dosage affects GABAA receptors.  It might well be lower than that required for Ponstan’s known ant-inflammatory effects.


Ponstan vs Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is quite widely used in autism.  Ibuprofen is an NSAID but also a PPAR gamma agonist.  Ponstan is an NSAID but has no effect on PPAR gamma.

Research shows that some types of autism respond to PPAR gamma agonists.

So it is worth trying both Ponstan and Ibuprofen, but for somewhat different reasons.

They are both interesting to deal with autism flare-ups, which seem common.

Other drugs that people use short term, but are used long term in asthma therapy,  are Singulair (Montelukast) and an interesting Japanese drug called Ibudilast.  Singulair is a Western drug for maintenance therapy in asthma.  Ibudilast is widely used in Japan as maintenance therapy in Asthma, but works in a different way.  Ibudilast is being used in clinical trials in the US to treat Multiple Sclerosis.  Singulair is cheap and widely available, Ibudilast is more expensive and available mainly in Japan.


Pre-vaccination Immunomodulation

In spite of there being no publicly acknowledged link between vaccinations and autism secondary to mitochondrial disease (AMD), I read that short term immunomodulation is used prior to vaccination at Johns Hopkins, for some babies.

Singulair is used, as is apparently ibuprofen.  Ponstan and Ibudilast would also likely be protective.   Ponstan might well be the best choice; it lowers fevers better than ibuprofen.

For those open minded people, here is what a former head of the US National Institutes of Health, Bernadine Healy, had to say about the safe vaccination.  Not surprisingly she was another Johns Hopkins trained doctor, as is Hannah Poling’s Neurologist father.

The Vaccines-Autism War: Détente Needed

“Finally, are certain groups of people especially susceptible to side effects from vaccines, and can we identify them? Youngsters like Hannah Poling, for example, who has an underlying mitochondrial disorder and developed a sudden and dramatic case of regressive autism after receiving nine immunizations, later determined to be the precipitating factor. Other children may have a genetic predisposition to autism, a pre-existing neurological condition worsened by vaccines, or an immune system that is sent into overdrive by too many vaccines, and thus they might deserve special care. This approach challenges the notion that every child must be vaccinated for every pathogen on the government's schedule with almost no exception, a policy that means some will be sacrificed so the vast majority benefit.”


So if I was an American running the FDA/CDC I would suggest giving parents the option of paying a couple of dollars for 10 days of Ponstan prior to these megadose vaccinations and a few days afterwards.  No harm or good done in 99.9% of cases, but maybe some good done for the remainder.

The fact the fact that nobody paid any attention to the late Dr Healy on this subject tells you a lot.



Fenamates (ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1)

Here Knut is trying to target the ion channels expressed by the genes ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1. 

·        ANO 2/4/7 are calcium activated chloride channels. (CACCs)


·        KCNMA1 is a calcium activated potassium channel.  KCNMA1encodes the ion channel KCa1.1, otherwise known as BK (big potassium).  This was the subject of post that I never got round to publishing.
  
Fenamates are an important group of clinically used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but they have other effects beyond being anti-inflammatory.  They act as CaCC inhibitors and also stimulate BKCa channel activity.


But fenamates also have a potent effect on what seems to be the most dysfunctional receptor in classic autism, the GABAA receptor.




The fenamate NSAID, mefenamic acid (MFA) prevents convulsions and protects rats from seizure-induced forebrain damage evoked by pilocarpine (Ikonomidou-Turski et al., 1988) and is anti-epileptogenic against pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced seizure activity, but at high doses induces seizures (Wallenstein, 1991). In humans, MFA overdose can lead to convulsions and coma (Balali-Mood et al, 1981; Young et al., 1979; Smolinske et al., 1990). More recent data by Chen and colleagues (1998) have shown that the fenamates, flufenamic, meclofenamic and mefenamic acid, protect chick embryo retinal neurons against ischaemic and excitotoxic (kainate and NMDA) induced neuronal cell death in vitro (Chen et al., 1998a; 1998b). MFA has also been reported to reduce neuronal damage induced by intraventricular amyloid beta peptide (Aβ1-42) and improve learning in rats treated with Aβ1-42 (Joo et al., 2006). The mechanisms underlying these anti-epileptic and neuroprotective effects are not well understood but together suggest that fenamates may influence neuronal excitability through modulation of ligand and/or voltage-gated ion channels. In the present study, therefore, we have investigated this hypothesis by determining the actions of five representative fenamate NSAIDs at the major excitatory and inhibitory ligand-gated ion channels in cultured hippocampal neurons


This study demonstrates for the first time that mefenamic acid and 4 other representatives of the fenamate NSAIDs are highly effective and potent modulators of native hippocampal neuron GABAA receptors. MFA was the most potent and at concentrations equal to or greater than 10 μM was also able to directly activate the GABAA gated chloride channel. A previous study from this laboratory reported that mefenamic acid potentiated recombinant GABAA receptors expressed in HEK-293 cells and in Xenopus laevis oocytes (Halliwell et al., 1999). Together these studies lead to the conclusion that fenamate NSAIDs should now also be considered a robust class of GABAA receptor modulators.


Also demonstrated for the first time here is the direct activation of neuronal GABAA receptors by mefenamic acid. Other allosteric potentiators, including the neuroactive steroids and the depressant barbiturates share this property, with MFA at least equipotent to neurosteroids and significantly more potent than the barbiturates. The mechanism(s) of the direct gating of GABAA receptor chloride channels by MFA requires further investigation using ultra-fast perfusion techniques but may be distinct from that reported for neurosteroids (see, Hosie et al., 2006). Mefenamic acid induced a leftward shift in the GABA dose-response curve consistent with an increase in receptor affinity for the agonist. This is an action observed with other positive allosteric GABAA receptor modulators, including the benzodiazepine agonist, diazepam, the neuroactive steroid, allopregnanolone, and the intravenous anesthetics, pentobarbitone and propofol (e.g. Johnston, 2005). To our knowledge, a unique property of MFA was that it was significantly (F = 10.35; p≤ 0.001) more effective potentiating GABA currents at hyperpolarized holding potentials (especially greater than −60mV). Further experiments are required however to determine the underlying mechanism(s).

The highly effective modulation of GABAA receptors in cultured hippocampal neurons suggests the fenamates may have central actions. Consistent with this hypothesis, mefenamic acid concentrations are 40–80μM in plasma with therapeutic doses (Cryer & Feldman, 1998); fenamates can also cross the blood brain barrier (Houin et al., 1983; Bannwarth et al., 1989) Coyne et al. Page 5 Neurochem Int. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2008 November 1. NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript and in overdose in humans are associated with coma and convulsions (Smolinske et al., 1990). In animal studies, mefenamic acid is anticonvulsant and neuroprotective against seizureinduced forebrain damage in rodents (Ikonomidou-Turski et al., 1988). The present study would suggest that the anticonvulsant effects of fenamates may be related, in part, to their efficacy to potentiate native GABAA receptors in the brain, although a recent study has suggested that activation of M-type K+ channels may contribute to this action (Peretz et al., 2005) Finally, Joo and co-workers (2006) have recently reported that mefenamic acid provided neuroprotection against β-amyloid (Aβ1-42) induced neurodegeneration and attenuated cognitive impairments in this animal model of Alzheimer’s disease. The authors proposed that neuroprotection may have resulted from inhibition of cytochrome c release from mitochondria and reduced caspase-3 activation by mefenamic acid. Clearly it would also be of interest to evaluate the role of GABA receptor modulation in this in vivo model of Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, considerable evidence has emerged in the last few years indicating that GABA receptor subtypes are involved in distinct neuronal functions and subtype modulators may provide novel pharmacological therapies (Rudolf & Mohler, 2006). Our present data showing that fenamates are highly effective modulators of native GABAA receptors and that mefenamic acid is highly subtype-selective (Halliwell et al., 1999) suggests that further studies of its cognitive and behavioral effects would be of value.

  

Note in the above paper that NSAIDs other than mefenamic acid also modulate GABAA receptors.

Just a couple of months ago a rather complicated paper was published, again showing that NSAIDs modulate GABAA receptors and showing that this is achieved via the same calcium activated chloride channels (CaCC) referred to by Knut.

NSAIDs modulate GABA-activated currents via Ca2+-activated Cl channels in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons






"Schematic displaying the effects of CaCCs on GABA-activated inward currents and depolarization. GABA activates the GABAA receptor to open the Cl  channel and the Cl efflux induces the depolarization response (inward current) of the membrane of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Then, voltage dependent L-type Ca2+ channels are activated by the depolarization, and give rise to an increase in intracellular Ca2+. CaCCs are activated by an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration which, in turn, increases the driving force for Cl efflux. Finally, the synergistic action of the chloride ion efflux through GABAA receptors and NFA-sensitive CaCCs causes GABA-activated currents or depolarization response in rat DRG neurons."


Note in the complex explanation above the L-type calcium channels, which are already being targeted by Verapamil, in the PolyPill.



Mefenamic Acid and Potassium Channels

We know that Mefenamic acid also affects Kv7.1 (KvLQT1).

A closely related substance called meclofenamic acid is known to act as novel KCNQ2/Q3 channel openers and is seen as having potential for the treatment of neuronal hyper-excitability including epilepsy, migraine, or neuropathic pain.



The voltage-dependent M-type potassium current (M-current) plays a major role in controlling brain excitability by stabilizing the membrane potential and acting as a brake for neuronal firing. The KCNQ2/Q3 heteromeric channel complex was identified as the molecular correlate of the M-current. Furthermore, the KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 channel  subunits are mutated in families with benign familial neonatal convulsions, a neonatal form of epilepsy. Enhancement of KCNQ2/Q3 potassium currents may provide an important target for antiepileptic drug development. Here, we show that meclofenamic acid (meclofenamate) and diclofenac, two related molecules previously used as anti-inflammatory drugs, act as novel KCNQ2/Q3 channel openers. Extracellular application of meclofenamate (EC50  25 M) and diclofenac (EC50  2.6 M) resulted in the activation of KCNQ2/Q3 K currents, heterologously expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Both openers activated KCNQ2/Q3 channels by causing a hyperpolarizing shift of the voltage activation curve (23 and 15 mV, respectively) and by markedly slowing the deactivation kinetics. The effects of the drugs were stronger on KCNQ2 than on KCNQ3 channel  subunits. In contrast, they did not enhance KCNQ1 K currents. Both openers increased KCNQ2/Q3 current amplitude at physiologically relevant potentials and led to hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential. In cultured cortical neurons, meclofenamate and diclofenac enhanced the M-current and reduced evoked and spontaneous action potentials, whereas in vivo diclofenac exhibited an anticonvulsant activity (ED50  43 mg/kg). These compounds potentially constitute novel drug templates for the treatment of neuronal hyperexcitability including epilepsy, migraine, or neuropathic pain. Volt




BK channel

KCNMA1encodes the ion channel KCa1.1, otherwise known as BK (big potassium). BK channels are implicated not only by Knut’s statistics, but numerous studies ranging from schizophrenia to Fragile X. 

Usually it is a case of too little BK channel activity.

The BK channel is implicated in some epilepsy.

  

Pharmacology

BK channels are pharmacological targets for the treatment of several medical disorders including stroke and overactive bladder. Although pharmaceutical companies have attempted to develop synthetic molecules targeting BK channels, their efforts have proved largely ineffective. For instance, BMS-204352, a molecule developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, failed to improve clinical outcome in stroke patients compared to placebo. However, BKCa channels are reduced in patients suffering from the Fragile X syndrome and the agonist, BMS-204352, corrects some of the deficits observed in Fmr1 knockout mice, a model of Fragile X syndrome.
BK channels have also been found to be activated by exogenous pollutants and endogenous gasotransmitters carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide.
BK channels can be readily inhibited by a range of compounds including tetraethylammonium (TEA), paxilline and iberiotoxin.



Achieving a better understanding of BK channel function is important not only for furthering our knowledge of the involvement of these channels in physiological processes, but also for pathophysiological conditions, as has been demonstrated by recent discoveries implicating these channels in neurological disorders. One such disorder is schizophrenia where BK channels are hypothesized to play a role in the etiology of the disease due to the effects of commonly used antipsychotic drugs on enhancing K+ conductance [101]. Furthermore, this same study found that the mRNA expression levels of the BK channel were significantly lower in the prefrontal cortex of the schizophrenic group than in the control group [101]. Similarly, autism and mental retardation have been linked to haploinsufficiency of the Slo1 gene and decreased BK channel expression [102].
Two mutations in BK channel genes have been associated with epilepsy. One mutation has been identified on the accessory β3 subunit, which results in an early truncation of the protein and has been significantly correlated in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy [103]. The other mutation is located on the Slo1gene, and was identified through genetic screening of a family with generalized epilepsy and paroxysmal dyskinesia [104]. The biophysical properties of this Slo1 mutation indicates enhanced sensitivity to Ca2+ and an increased average time that the channel remains open [104107]. This increased Ca2+ sensitivity is dependent on the specific type of β subunit associating with the BK channel [106, 107]. In association with the β3 subunit, the mutation does not alter the Ca2+-dependent properties of the channel, but with the β4 subunit the mutation increases the Ca2+ sensitivity [105107]. This is significant considering the relatively high abundance of the β4 subunit compared to the weak distribution of the β3 subunit in the brain [12, 13,15, 106, 107]. It has been proposed that a gain of BK channel function may result in increases in the firing frequency due to rapid repolarization of APs, which allows a quick recovery of Na+ channels from inactivation, thereby facilitating the firing of subsequent APs [104]. Supporting this hypothesis, mice null for the β4 subunit showed enhanced Ca2+ sensitivity of BK channels, resulting in temporal lobe epilepsy, which was likely due to a shortened duration and increased frequency of APs [108]. An interesting relevance to the mechanisms of BK channel activation as discussed above, the Slo1 mutation associated with epilepsy only alters Ca2+ dependent activation originated from the Ca2+ binding site in RCK1, but not from the Ca2+bowl, by altering the coupling mechanism between Ca2+ binding and gate opening [100]. Since Ca2+dependent activation originated from the Ca2+ binding site in RCK1 is enhanced by membrane depolarization, at the peak of an action potential the binding of Ca2+ to the site in RCK1 contributes much more than binding to the Ca2+ bowl to activating the channel [84, 109].
Although these associations between specific mutations in BK channel subunits and various neurological disorders have been demonstrated by numerous studies, it is also important to point out certain caveats with these studies, such as genetic linkage between BK channels and different diseases do not necessary show causation as these studies were performed based on correlation between changes in the protein/genetic marker and overall phenotype. Furthermore, studies performed using a mouse model also can fail to indicate what may happen in higher-order species, and this is especially true for BK channels, where certain β subunits are only primate specific [110].


  

Possible role of potassium channel, big K in etiology of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia (SZ), a common severe mental disorder, affecting about 1% of the world population. However, the etiology of SZ is still largely unknown. It is believed that molecules that are in an association with the etiology and pathology of SZ are neurotransmitters including dopamine, 5-HT and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). But several lines of evidences indicate that potassium large conductance calcium-activated channel, known as BK channel, is likely to be included. BK channel belongs to a group of ion channels that plays an important role in regulating neuronal excitability and transmitter releasing. Its involvement in SZ emerges as a great interest. For example, commonly used neuroleptics, in clinical therapeutic concentrations, alter calcium-activated potassium conductance in central neurons. Diazoxide, a potassium channel opener/activator, showed a significant superiority over haloperidol alone in the treatment of positive and general psychopathology symptoms in SZ. Additionally, estrogen, which regulates the activity of BK channel, modulates dopaminergic D2 receptor and has an antipsychotic-like effect. Therefore, we hypothesize that BK channel may play a role in SZ and those agents, which can target either BK channel functions or its expression may contribute to the therapeutic actions of SZ treatment.




Conclusion

It appears that Ponstan and related substances have some interesting effects that are only now emerging in the research.

People with autism, and indeed schizophrenia, may potentially benefit from Ponstan and for a variety of different reasons.

I think it will take many decades for any conclusive research to be published on this subject, because this is an off-patent generic drug.

As with most NSAIDS, it is simple to trial Ponstan.

Thanks to Knut for the idea, Professor Ritvo for his endorsement of the idea and our reader from South Africa for sharing his positive experience with Ponstan. 







Thursday, 21 January 2016

2016 To-do List

I expect many readers of this blog have a list of things to trial in 2016; I certainly do.

Monty’s older brother, codenamed Ted, did say to me recently, “I thought you said you’d be all finished with this, in a couple of years”; that was indeed the intention.  


A medicine cabinet to be proud of, but not mine


It has now been three years.  I never really intended to go so deeply into the science, and I never expected there to be so many “obvious” things un/under-investigated by researchers.

Most people diagnosed these days with “autism” are fortunate to be relatively mildly affected.  Parents of those kids likely find this blog rather shocking; how can so many pills be needed and still you want more?

Some other people also diagnosed with autism, face really big challenges, not limited to:-
  
     ·        Unable to talk
·        Unable to walk
·        Unable to eat (must use G tube)
·        Unable to be toilet trained
·        Unable to read
·        Unable to write
·        Have seizures 

So when asked by a teacher at school, if Monty, now aged 12, has severe autism I responded in the negative.  He does not tick any of the above boxes.

If you have more than “mild autism” it seems that there are likely many dysfunctions and the more you treat, the better the result.  A quest without an end.


School

Ted hates his relatives discussing his school grades and I agree with him that they are entirely his business.  We all know that typical kids vary in how smart they are and how motivated they are.  NT kids tend to get the grades they deserve.

I do break these rules with Monty, but that is because I really want to show that when a person has numerous neurological dysfunctions, as those found in classic autism, if you treat them with science (not with bleach and other nonsense), you can end up in a different, better place. 99.99999% of the world do not know this; perhaps 500 people do know.

Improving IQ will improve the person’s ability to understand and compensate for the dysfunctions that have not been treated.  

Grading academic performance at school is something we all understand and along with its limitations.  We have all been there, so let's use it.

Kids with classic autism do not get the grades they potentially deserve.  Most can be made smarter and it is easy to measure.

Before coming to my to-do list, I did receive another question about what exactly is the effect of bumetanide. 

When I collected Monty from school the other day, his assistant was proudly holding up the latest “quick fire” math test, where speed is seemingly even more important than the right answer.

So Monty, the only one with autism, came first and by a long way. 3 minutes and 35 seconds, with the runner up taking 3:56.  He got 90% correct, but that is enough to keep first place.   The previous test before Christmas he got 100%, but finished 7th out of 16 on speed.  It must be the turkey.

The questions are very simple, since you have to be very fast; but until the age of 9, and the introduction of Bumetanide, the class teacher would never have dreamt of having Monty compete at all.  Coming a distant last in everything would be disheartening, for the teacher. Monty would not have even noticed, let alone cared.

People with Classic Autism, or what Knut termed SDA (strict definition autism), are usually hopeless academically; but with Bumetanide, it does not have to be that way. 

Many people with classic autism leave school 18 years old, still at the level of single digit addition and subtraction, or perhaps up to 20.

If you reach the academic level of Grade 2 (Year 3 in the UK system), that of a typical 7 or 8 year old, by the time you “graduate” high school, you are doing above average.









So Ted is not alone in being able to get good grades.  The PolyPill is indeed worth all the bother.



To-do list


I did have to go through by supply cupboard to see what I had not got round to testing and that I still think has some potential merit.  Some things did get thrown out.

Some old ideas are worth revisiting.

·        Biotin (high dose)
This did seem to have a marginal positive effect and is both cheap and harmless. 

·        Pregnenolone (very low dose)
This also appeared to have some positive effect and should affect GABA subunit expression. High doses have been used in a Stanford clinical trial. We saw in earlier posts that allopregnanolone possesses biphasic, U-shaped actions at the GABAA receptor, meaning that a tiny dose can have the same effect as a large dose.
 I like low doses.  

Old ideas worth developing:-

·        Miyairi 588 bacteria, but at higher doses

This is the bacteria used as a probiotic in Japan for humans, since the 1940s.  It is also added to animal feed to avoid inflammatory disease and so produce healthier animals.

The science showed that it should be helpful to raise Butyrate levels.  It can be achieved directly via supplementation, with sodium butyrate, and indirectly by adding a butyrate-producing bacteria, such as Clostridium Butyricum or Miyari 588.

I have been using a tiny dose of Miyari 588 for months.  It achieves what it is sold for in Japan, in that it reduces gas, which is the only obvious negative side effect of Monty’s Polypill, other than diuresis.

The positive side effect of the Polypill is near perfect asthma control.  Asthma is an auto-immune/inflammatory disease, highly comorbid with autism. 

The effect of Miyari 588 is reversible because this bacteria cannot survive long in the intestines, which is why you have to take it every day.  It crowds out some of the other bacteria in the intestines, but they will soon grow back.


New ideas already in this blog:-

·        Diamox

I did suggest on several occasions that it might be possible to get a “Bumetanide plus” effect by adding Diamox.

Diamox (Acetazolamide) is another diuretic and it is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor


Acetazolamide is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, hence causing the accumulation of carbonic acid Carbonic anhydrase is an enzyme found in red blood cells that catalyses the following reaction:



hence lowering blood pH, by means of the following reaction that carbonic acid undergoes:


The mechanism of diuresis involves the proximal tubule of the kidney. The enzyme carbonic anhydrase is found here, allowing the reabsorption of bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride. By inhibiting this enzyme, these ions are excreted, along with excess water, lowering blood pressure, intracranial pressure, and intraocular pressure. By excreting bicarbonate, the blood becomes acidic, causing compensatory hyperventilation, increasing levels of oxygen and decreasing levels of carbon dioxide in the blood

This change in bicarbonate will also affect the AE3 and NDAE exchangers.

As you will see in the figure below the regulation of bicarbonate HCO3- and pH is directly connected to chloride Cl- homeostasis.  This means that via AE3 and NDAE you can affect intracellular chloride levels by change the level of HCO3-

In turns this means that Diamox (Acetazolamide) really should have an effect on the level of intracellular chloride.

This in turn suggested to me that Diamox could augment the effect that bumetanide has on NKCC1.

 In the case that Bumetanide can lower intracellular chloride, but not to the optimal level to correct the GABA dysfunction, Diamox might be able to lower chloride levels a little further so further shifting GABA to inhibitory.










http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1317631/

Neuronal activity results in significant pH shifts in neurons, glia, and interstitial space. Several transport mechanisms are involved in the fine-tuning and regulation of extra- and intracellular pH. The sodium-independent electroneutral anion exchangers (AEs) exchange intracellular bicarbonate for extracellular chloride and thereby lower the intracellular pH. Recently, a significant association was found with the variant Ala867Asp of the anion exchanger AE3, which is predominantly expressed in brain and heart, in a large cohort of patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. To analyze a possible involvement of AE3 dysfunction in the pathogenesis of seizures, we generated an AE3-knockout mouse model by targeted disruption of Slc4a3. AE3-knockout mice were apparently healthy, and neither displayed gross histological and behavioral abnormalities nor spontaneous seizures or spike wave complexes in electrocorticograms. 



After only a couple of days of Diamox, it is pretty clear that there is indeed a “bumetanide plus” effect.  So the same changes that were noted when starting bumetanide appear again.

A promising start to 2016.



·        Ponstan

This is the NSAID that is also suggested to be useful to affect the ion channels expressed by the genes ANO 2/4/7 & KCNMA1.  We saw in this post

http://epiphanyasd.blogspot.com/2015/12/autism-treatments-proposed-by-clinical.html

where Knut highlighted that Fenamates act as CaCC inhibitors and also stimulate BKCa channel activity.  Ponstan is a Fenamate.



·        Vitamin A

This was Maja’s discovery, that in some people vitamin A will stimulate oxytocin, via upregulation of CD38.


·        Zinc

Zinc should affect GABA, particularly in immature neurons.  Zinc homeostasis is disturbed in some autism and perhaps, in some people, a small dose of zinc may actually have a positive effect.  Simple to check.

Clioquinol, the drug that shifts zinc to the “right” place, is not without risks.


·        Picamilon

Once the GABA switch has been repaired, it may be time for a little extra GABA.  GABA should not be able to cross the blood brain barrier (BBB), but in the form of Picamilion, it does cross the BBB.


·        Inositol

This it naturally produced in the body from glucose and used to be known as vitamin B8.  In some people Inositol reduces OCD and stereotypy.  Simple to check.


·        Montelukast

This is an asthma drug, considered very safe in children, that Dr Kelley (formerly of Johns Hopkins and likely the cleverest autism clinician)  uses in children with AMD, as a short term therapy, when they are sick and, very interestingly, before immunizations.  This is to avoid further mitochondrial damage.  Montelukast is a leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA) used for the maintenance treatment of asthma and to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Dr Kelley also uses Ibuprofen as a short term therapy to counter the effects of increased cytokine production.  Montelukast is more potent and has different side effects, meaning it might be a better choice than ibuprofen for some people.

Ibuprofen may be OTC, but, more than very occasional use, can cause side effects in many people.  These side effects are caused by NSAIDs also being COX-2 inhibitors, which leads to stomach and intestinal adverse reactions.

Since I have determined that in the case of autism I deal with, the surge in cytokines like IL6 causes behavioral regression, Montelukast might be a good alternative to Ibuprofen to treat some types of autism flare.  

So a new addition to the autism flare-up toolkit, I hope.

  

Ideas not yet in this blog:-

·        Curcumin

Curcumin, and particularly some of the substances within it, have been shown to have very interesting autism-relevant effects, particularly in vitro (in test tubes).  Whether taking curcumin orally, in reasonable doses, produces any of these effects in humans is a big question.  Many such substances like luteolin and resveratrol fail to meet expectations in humans, due to poor bioavailability.

There are various ways to improve the bioavailability of curcumin, so it seems worth investigating.



·        5-loxin

Frankincense has been used for 5,000 years.  More recently, two thousand years ago, three wise men did bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Frankincense is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia.  Boswellia is used for inflammatory conditions like arthritis in a similar way to curcumin.

There are six boswellic acids, one is most active. This fraction is called AKBA. 5-Loxin is a boswellia supplement claiming to deliver a high standardized level of AKBA.

5-Loxin does seem to help some people with arthritis, but does it have any benefit for the pro-inflammatory aspects found in some autism?  I am not expecting much, but you never know.

  
Ideas suggested to me by others, that look interesting:-


·        Mint/Menthol

This is Natasa’s discovery and there is evidence to show that Menthol does indeed affect GABAA receptors.



These results suggest that menthol positively modulates both synaptic and extrasynaptic populations of GABAA receptors in native PAG neurons. The development of agents that potentiate GABAA-mediated tonic currents and phasic IPSCs in a manner similar to menthol could provide a basis for novel GABAA-related pharmacotherapies.

  
·        NIAGEN / Nicotinamide Riboside

This was highlighted by Tyler and is another potential therapy for oxidative stress.  Not as cheap as peppermint, but definitely interesting, perhaps particularly for those with autism and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Also note that there are odd recurring links between some autism and obesity. This is not the first anti-obesity therapy that potentially has some benefit for autism.



Summary
As NAD+ is a rate-limiting cosubstrate for the sirtuin enzymes, its modulation is emerging as a valuable tool to regulate sirtuin function and, consequently, oxidative metabolism. In line with this premise, decreased activity of PARP-1 or CD38—both NAD+ consumers—increases NAD+ bioavailability, resulting in SIRT1 activation and protection against metabolic disease. Here we evaluated whether similar effects could be achieved by increasing the supply of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a recently described natural NAD+ precursor with the ability to increase NAD+ levels, Sir2-dependent gene silencing, and replicative life span in yeast. We show that NR supplementation in mammalian cells and mouse tissues increases NAD+ levels and activates SIRT1 and SIRT3, culminating in enhanced oxidative metabolism and protection against high-fat diet-induced metabolic abnormalities. Consequently, our results indicate that the natural vitamin NR could be used as a nutritional supplement to ameliorate metabolic and age-related disorders characterized by defective mitochondrial function.
  



Low-grade chronic inflammation (metaflammation) is a major contributing factor for the onset and development of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Nicotinamide riboside (NR), which is present in milk and beer, is a functional vitamin B3 having advantageous effects on metabolic regulation. However, the anti-inflammatory capacity of NR is unknown. This study evaluated whether NR modulates hepatic nucleotide binding and oligomerization domain-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome. Male, 8-week-old KK/HlJ mice were allocated to the control or NR group. NR (100 mg/kg/day) or vehicle (phosphate-buffered saline) was administrated by an osmotic pump for 7 days. Glucose control, lipid profiles, NLRP3 inflammasome, and inflammation markers were analyzed, and structural and histological analyses were conducted. NR treatment did not affect body weight gain, food intake, and liver function. Glucose control based on the oral glucose tolerance test and levels of serum insulin and adiponectin was improved by NR treatment. Among tested lipid profiles, NR lowered the total cholesterol concentration in the liver. Histological and structural analysis by hematoxylin and eosin staining and transmission electron microscopy, respectively, showed that NR rescued the disrupted cellular integrity of the mitochondria and nucleus in the livers of obese and diabetic KK mice. In addition, NR treatment significantly improved hepatic proinflammatory markers, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-1. These ameliorations were accompanied by significant shifts of NLRP3 inflammasome components (NLRP3, ASC, and caspase1). These results demonstrate that NR attenuates hepatic metaflammation by modulating the NLRP3 inflammasome

  

  

  

An apparently crazy idea of my own, but actually serious:-


·        Propolis tincture, without the propolis

The BIO 30 Propolis from New Zealand is a (mild) PAK1 inhibitor.  One reader is convinced of its cognitive enhancing effects in autism .  I also think it had an effect, but in our case not as potent as that reader.  Now I am wondering what was it that produced this effect. 

Most propolis is made as a tincture with ethanol.  Propolis is not soluble in water.  They typically use 70% ethanol to make propolis tincture.  “Non-alcoholic” tinctures use glycol.

In the last post we saw ethanol has pronounced effects on several GABAA receptor subunits, mainly delta but also alpha, including possibly down regulating alpha 5.

So was it the propolis, or the ethanol that has the effect?

Propolis tincture is either made with ethanol (grain alcohol) or if it is “alcohol free” they use propylene glycolPropylene glycol actually is a food ingredient but it is also used to de-ice aircraft in winter.  Ethylene glycol is the antifreeze in your car and you would not want to drink that.

Compared to ethanol, glycol can dissolve less propolis, 

A quick check of school chemistry reminds us that if it is an –ol , it’s an alcohol.

·        Alcohols have at least one hydroxyl group
·        Diols have two hydroxyl groups

Propylene glycol is  C3H8Oand as you can see below it has two hydroxyl groups (the – OH), so it is both a diol and an alcohol. 






So your Propolis tincture can be ethanol-free, but it cannot be alcohol-free.  Someone might point that out to the supplement makers.

It also should be noted that propylene glycol has known effects on GABA very similar to ethanol.


  
This suggests that the users of ethanol-free BIO30 may also be seeing responses unrelated to propolis.

Propylene glycol even has an E-number, it is E1520.  It is cheap and they even sell it on Amazon.

Food grade ethanol is normally not sold to the public.

In lay terms, ethanol and alcohol are interchangeable, so one corner of the supermarket contains food grade ethanol, with some impurities.

Japanese research suggests that these impurities are much more potent than ethanol in modulating GABA receptors.  It is the fragrant compounds that accumulate over the years on wooden barrels that cause this effect.

The twenty drops of propolis suggested to me by the Japanese PAK1 researcher/doctor contained about 1ml of ethanol.  It seems that to get an effect on GABA similar to this amount of ethanol would require a much smaller amount to well-aged Japanese whiskey.

So if someone over 18 responds well to twenty drops of BIO 30 propolis, it would helpful if they could compare the effect with 1ml of Propylene glycol (E1520), 1ml of ethanol, if they find it, and with a few drops of well-aged whiskey.