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Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation Grants NAA $10,000 for Burbacher/Charleston Study

Funds to support research into the effects on the brain following exposure to mercury

NIXA, Mo., March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It was announced this week that The National Autism Association (NAA) will receive $10,000 for the Burbacher/Charleston study into the effects of mercury exposure in the brain. The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. awarded the grant. Funding will support the completion of a research study relating to the effects upon the brain following exposure to mercury.

The mercury study's primary investigator is Dr. Thomas Burbacher, a University of Washington researcher and long-time investigator into the effects of the toxin. His earlier research found that Thimerosal, best known for its use as an ethylmercury-based preservative in infant vaccines and pregnancy shots, is actually more toxic to the brain than methylmercury.

The goal of this particular investigation is to expand the knowledge of a potential link between neurotoxic exposures and the development of autism, which will in turn lead to better treatments.

"As parents of a child with autism, we are concerned about the possible correlation between mercury and autism and are pleased to see NAA continuing to support this very important research that may help resolve the mercury issue," commented Doug and Laurie Flutie.

The second-phase study by Dr. Jay Charleston and Dr. Burbacher will look more in-depth at brain tissue, and the effects mercury may have on this tissue once it passes the blood-brain barrier. In his first-phase study, Burbacher concluded:

-- Ethylmercury is more toxic because it is less stable as a molecule than methylmercury. Like methylmercury, it gains ready access to the brain across the blood-brain barrier.

-- Ethylmercury leaves more than double the amount of inorganic mercury trapped in the brain than does methylmercury.

-- Inorganic mercury trapped in the brain can stay for many years, even a lifetime.

NAA applauds The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for its continued support on the project. "This is the second grant they've given us, and we're extremely grateful," says parent and NAA President Wendy Fournier. "It's this kind of research that can make all the difference for our children."

For more information, visit and


Rita Shreffler, NAA (Nixa, MO) 417-818-9030

Wendy Fournier, NAA (Portsmouth, RI) 401-632-7523

SOURCE National Autism Association
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