Does an Autism Cure Exist?
If you've recently learned that your child has autism, you may feel overwhelmed by this diagnosis and wonder if there's any cure. And while this is a controversial topic, some people believe that the answer may be yes, thanks to recent research efforts exploring this very question.
The Need for an Autism Cure
As many as one in 150 children suffers from autism, and this condition can cause a host of physical and developmental symptoms. Some advocacy groups in recent years have been promoting the idea that the condition can be cured, yet medical experts have stood firm on the fact that there isn't any way to reverse it. That being said, many believe that early behavioral interventions and therapies do seem to have meaningful benefits.
Researching an Autism Cure
However, a study released in the FASEB Journal in April of 2010 offers new hope to autistic children and their families that the condition may indeed be effectively cured in the future.
Scientists from the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C have discovered that it may be possible to identify autism by using a sample of a patient's blood, and then to effectively alter the person's gene state in order to reverse the symptoms.
The Process of Finding an Autism Cure
To come to this conclusion, scientists looked at the levels of protein that were produced by two genes that are associated with autism disorder. While the findings are complicated, in the simplest terms these proteins seem to be lower in those people who've been diagnosed with autism than in healthy counterparts. This fact has led researchers to believe that they can identify the problem using blood samples and when needed, can also administer a medication that will block the associated chemical change (also called "tagging") in the DNA. In the process, this can actually reverse or cure the symptoms of autism that exist. This drug is also currently being successfully used in cancer patients.
What an Autism Cure Means
These findings are particularly significant because they indicate that genetic changes are to blame for autism, rather than the disorder occurring as the result of a vaccine reaction, as some earlier research has suggested. Second, the findings demonstrate the need to correctly diagnose the condition and then use the information to determine how best to reverse and treat the associated symptoms. Finally, they offer real hope to parents of autistic children that their children can greatly increase their level of functioning with the proper intervention.
What You Can Do
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you should talk to your pediatrician about these results and find out how the information can help in his specific case. While it may be a while before the medications studied to alter the DNA tagging are available for patients on a widespread basis, you can support further research in this area and also help to spread the message that a cure for autism may soon exist.
American Academy of Pediatrics/National Center for Medical Home Implementation
Yale Child Study Center
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