The subjects for this study were 10 high functioning ASD patients who were able to give informed consent and who had a history of allergies or a family history of immune-inflammatory illness. Patients were treated for 12 weeks with the worm eggs (2500 eggs every two weeks) but were also subjected to a 12 week placebo phase in a randomized order. It was found that adults with ASD had improvement in repetitive and ritualistic behaviors in response to treatment with the worm eggs.
This is not the first time that worm eggs have been used successfully to treat diseases, particularly immune-related diseases, in humans such as Crohn's Disease. As noted by Dr. Hollander, "TSO has been shown to improve various immune inflammatory illness by shifting the ratio of T regulator/T helper cells and their respective cytokines.."
The findings support the idea that inflammation may contribute to the symptoms of autism, at least in some individuals, and highlight novel treatment approaches. However, as noted by Dr. Hollander, the small sample size and unusual treatment approach means that caution should be exercised when interpreting the studies:
"Future studies in autism spectrum disorders are needed to replicate and expand these findings, and to study younger subjects with more severe irritability"
Nevertheless, the findings raise the intriguing possibility that approaches designed to module immune responses in ASD patients may be future treatment approaches for the disorder.
|Contact: Laura Hill|
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology