Test may determine if immunogloubin can help treat autism

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Radachynskyi)
(Image: Getty/Radachynskyi)

Related tags autism Immune response Testing

A study demonstrated that IV immunogloubin may be able to help treat a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Intravenous immunogloubin (IVIG) has shown positive outcomes as an immune therapy treatment for a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study testing the Cunningham panel was the largest case series examining children with ASD who had been treated with IVIG​.

Craig Shimasaki, co-founder of Moleculera labs told us, “What it [the study] did indicate, in the take-home message, is there is a subset of autism patients with symptoms due to an immune dysregulation and our panel identified those patients who were responsive to immune modulation therapy and they improved.”

The individuals had been assessed with the Cunningham panel, prior to receiving IVIG immune modulation therapy and having their responses recorded.

The Cunningham panel, developed by Madeleine Cunningham, is a panel of tests to measure the level of antibodies directed against antigens concentrated in the brain and measures the ability of these and other autoantibodies to increase activity of an enzyme that upregulates neurotransmitters.

The patients in the trial conducted by Richard Frye at the Phoneix Children's Hospital that presented positive outcomes from IVIG treatment showed a correlation with those who tested positive for an immune dysfunction by the Cunningham Panel, according to Shimasaki. He further explained that Moleculera labs had tested roughly 7,000 patients when he spoke to us.

Immune dysregulation

Shimasaki was careful to note that immune dysregulation may not necessarily be the cause of ASD but it may be a factor in a subset of ASD patients or a contributor to its development. 

Shimasaki stated that he believes immune dysregulation may be an underlying cause of certain disorders in which antibodies are produced to fight off an infection and, in some cases, those antibodies cross-react and attack different parts of the body.

It is believed by Shimasaki that antibodies from certain infections can cross-react and attack the brain, such as during some cases of strep infection that cross-react to the heart and cause rheumatic fever.

“In patients who have a predisposition to immune dysregulation, when an infection occurs, it can then trigger antibodies that recognize other parts of the body and symptoms that are common in various types of neuropsychiatric disorders,”​ he explained.

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