MONTREAL, Nov. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Scientists at the University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have started a study in which a
specially formulated whey protein isolate (Immunocal) will be used to raise
glutathione levels in an attempt to lessen symptoms of autism.
Autism is a neurological developmental disorder that affects children's
ability to socialize normally, impairs language skills, restricts their
interests and curiosity and causes other behavioral abnormalities. Most cases
are diagnosed before three years of age, and there has been an alarming
increase in the number of cases diagnosed over the past two decades.
Currently, 1 in every 175 American children is being identified as having
autism, and these numbers are on the rise each year. To date, medical
treatment of this disorder has been minimally effective.
Although the causes of autism have not been clearly identified, research
has suggested that chronic biochemical imbalance plays a role. Studies have
shown that levels of the major intracellular antioxidant "Glutathione" is
typically about 50% lower in children with autism. Glutathione, which is
produced by every cell in the body, is responsible for a number of functions
including removing or neutralizing dangerous substances that we are exposed to
on a daily basis, including toxic metals. Toxins, pollution, disease, stress,
and poor diet can all contribute to loss of glutathione. When glutathione
levels reach a critically low degree, we are much more vulnerable to toxins
and immune dysfunction.
Principal investigator for this study is Dr. Janet Kern, an adjunct
assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, which is internationally
recognized for its clinical and research programs.
"Some children with autism are poor detoxifiers relative to normally
developing children, and in particular, have trouble excreting toxic metals,"
said Dr. Kern. "Toxic metals that are not eliminated may build up in the
brain. Plasma glutathione has been found to be lower in children with autism,
particularly, in children with autism who have regressed. We want to clearly
establish that raising glutathione levels in these children will improve their
ability to detoxify these substances and in that way improve some of their
Dr. Jill James, Professor of Pediatrics at University of Arkansas for
Medical Sciences, will be a co-investigator. Dr. James is noted for her
landmark studies in autism and toxicology and is among the first scientists to
point out the links with low glutathione levels. "We know that Immunocal has
been used to raise glutathione in other studies very effectively in areas such
as cancer and lung disease. We want to take advantage of this same
technology", stated James.
The team will be using a protein supplement manufactured by Immunotec
Research Ltd. of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, called "Immunocal". It is
identified by the American Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) as a glutathione
precursor. Immunotec Research Ltd. has combined rigorous research and business
acumen delivering natural healthcare and dietary supplements in 22 countries
For further information: Dr. Janet Kern, Assistant Professor, Department
of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas,
(214) 648-0159, fax (214) 648-0167; John Molson, Vice President Research &
Development, Immunotec Research Ltd., Vaudreuil-Dorion, (450) 424-9992, fax