Can Microbiome Treatment Cure Autism?

In a new study, researchers show long-term benefits for children with autism via a revolutionary fecal transplant procedure called microbiota transfer therapy. (MTT)
The promising treatment involves microbiome of the gut, which is a swarm of microbes living in the intestines and assists us in several ways such as digestion of food and preventing the flourishing of harmful bacteria. Current research indicates human gut microbiomes in addition affect both neurological health and brain communication. Interest is growing worldwide in the notion that modifications in normal gut microbiota could be responsible for activating a large range of diseases.
In a new study published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Arizona State University demonstrate long-term benefits through MTT with marked improvements in gut health and core ASD symptoms that seem to continue long after treatment.
At 2 years post-treatment, majority of the early improvements in gut remained. Parents also reported a steady, gradual reduction of ASD-related symptoms during the procedure and the next two years. A professional evaluator uncovered a curtailment in chief ASD symptoms like social interaction, language, and behavior two years later as compared to before starting treatment.
“We are finding a very strong connection between the microbes that live in our intestines and signals that travel to the brain,” said Krajmalnik-Brown, a professor at the Biodesign Institute. “Two years later, the children are doing even better, which is amazing.”
“Many kids with autism have gastrointestinal problems, and some studies, including ours, have found that these children also have worse autism-related symptoms,” said Krajmalnik-Brown, adding: “In many cases, when you are able to treat those gastrointestinal problems, their behavior improves.”
It’s estimated that 30% to 50% of all autistic people have chronic gastrointestinal issues, mainly in the form of diarrhea and constipation that last a long time. That persistent pain and discomfort may cause irritability, decreased attention and learning, and affect behavior adversely.
A previous study testing one antibiotic, vancomycin, had found significant temporary improvements in ASD symptoms and GI, but the benefits lessened within a few weeks after treatment ceased.
Researchers have demonstrated that by transferring healthy microbiota to people deficient in gut bacteria, it’s possible to introduce a more diverse type of bacteria into the recipient and enhance gut health.
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