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Perhaps autism spectrum has three different root causes?

Posted by Brian_P_Hanley on 13 Oct 2011 at 21:18 GMT

I was doing a bit of work on a DNA measles vaccine adjuvant in 2008 and corresponded with Andrew Wakefield as part of diligence. I suggested doing a microarray study to him saying, "a low frequency allele set in a subpopulation within a large population will appear random without identifying the allele. That suggests doing correlations with wide spectrum human microarray chips, decent replicate numbers per chip, and a pretty large number of subjects is in order to start on the question. Your mucosal subgroup suggests a starting point. (There is also the question of tissues examined and developmental stage."

I had some further speculations on NK cell hyperactivity, but Dr. Wakefield stopped writing to me for unknown reasons. I had wondered about this interaction, curious why he stopped talking, but didn't push on him. And it looks like something along these lines has been done, which is great. I'm really glad to see it.

There is also Patterson's work at CalTech to consider. He has produced a rat model of autism that is quite compelling, using inoculations of mothers in the notochord closure window. In humans that window corresponds to autism caused by thalidomide, and thalidomide has the same effect as his inoculations when administered to his rat mothers in the same window.

Taken together, this suggests to me that what we are viewing as autism is likely to be three different things:

A. There are copy number alleles associated with autism. Straight genetics may account for some proportion. These would be children probably destined to develop autistically.

B. Children of mothers who were either vaccinated with oligonucleotides, took thalidomide, or became ill with a virus such as influenza during the notochord closure window toward the end of the first month (e.g. Patterson). These may be symptomatically indistinguishable from the first. It is plausible that improved medicine together with ease of access to pregnancy tests may be causing a spike in autism from this cause.

C. Possibly rare alleles that affect the gut when challenged in some way, possibly with a virus, which leads to autism spectrum symptoms if the challenge occurs early enough in childhood.

No competing interests declared.