research team from Arizona State University has found that autism symptoms could be
improved by fecal microbial transplant.
study was found to be effective in increasing the number of good bacteria, especially
which is normally found to be low in children with autism.
was an 80% improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms and up to 25% improvement
in social skills and sleep.
been treated as a condition with treatment that targeted the mind, but a new
study has found that the solution may also lie in the gut. A research team from
Arizona State University (ASU) is using a novel approach in autism treatment
that is effective and that involves using fecal microbial transplants to
improve the gut microbiome (microorganisms in the gut).
initial findings of the study holds promise and was published in the journal Microbiome
, but there are further
studies that are required before the therapy is approved by the UnitedStates
Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
research team includes scientists from the University of Minnesota, the
Northern Arizona University and Ohio State University and the study was
conducted on 18 study participants who had autism spectrum disorders and were
between 7 to 16 years old.
spectrum disorder (ASD)
is a neurological as
well as a developmental disorder that begins in early childhood but lasts for a
lifetime. The affected person finds it difficult to interact with people and
there are difficulties in communication and learning. This is called a spectrum disorder as people exhibit a range of
symptoms. People with autism may repeat things or may seem like they are in
their own world.
have shown that there is a gene and environment interaction
with the cause of autism but there are currently no standard treatment methods.
like speech language therapy are known to improve
the condition over a period of time.
Fecal Transplant for People with Autism:
current 10-week study conducted on 18 children with autism involved
- treatment with
- bowel cleanse
- daily fecal microbial transplants for 8 weeks
study was based on earlier studies conducted by ASU that showed an association
between symptoms of autism and the gut microbiome.
findings of the study were
- 80 % improvement on average of gastrointestinal
symptoms that are associated with autism spectrum disorders.
- 20-25 % improvement in symptoms of autism which include
improved social behavior and sleep.
leader, Dr. James Adams, professor of Materials Sciences said that the results
of the study were very encouraging and that they had completed the phase 1
trial demonstrating the safety associated with this treatment program. However,
phase 2 and phase 3 trials need to be undertaken before this method is
available for people. He further added "We look forward to continuing
research on this treatment method with a larger, placebo-controlled trial in
Fecal Microbial Transplant:
Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT)
the stool sample or fecal matter is
collected from a donor and mixed with a saline solution, filtered and then
introduced into a patient via enema, endoscopy, colonoscopy, or
Benefits of Fecal Microbial Transplant
- It replaces good bacteria that have been suppressed or
killed due to the use of antibiotics.
- There are 1,000 different species of gut bacteria which
are transferred from the donor to the patient, acting like a broad-spectrum
probiotic treatment which restores the normal gut bacteria of the
- It is currently used to lower the risk of infection by
bacteria, especially Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
that causes a debilitating form of diarrhea.
- It is also used for many other digestive or auto-immune
diseases, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS).
The first documented fecal transplant was conducted in the 4th century
in China, in a technique known as "yellow soup".
- The technique has been in use in veterinary medicine
for over 100 years in the treatment of C.
- In some parts of the world, it is customary for the
mother's stool to be given in small amounts to a newborn infant. This was
done to provide good bacteria immediately for better immunity and
- In the U.S, fecal transplant has been used sporadically
from the 1950′s; however, without much regulation. It has gained
popularity over the past few years.
- FDA announced classified fecal matter as an
Investigational New Drug (IND) as well as a biologic.
- FDA announced that qualified physicians could perform
fecal transplant for recurrent C.
diff after obtaining a signed consent from the patient and using the
stool sample from a tested donor.
using fecal microbial transplant for patients with autism, the scientists
stated that they saw a considerable increase in the microbe diversity and an
increase in Prevotella
, which was
found to be low in children with autism spectrum disorders. The microbes that
were transferred using fecal transplant were persistent even after the
treatment was stopped. The transplant not only resulted in providing good
bacteria to the recipient
but it also aided in altering the gut
, making it conducive for the growth of beneficial microbes.
transfer of 'good' bacteria to a recipient was found to be effective using the
methods followed in the current study, however, a placebo trial would aid in
evaluating the effectiveness of this treatment.
methodology followed in the study may seem simple and may encourage use by
family members. However, the scientists in the study caution that improper
transplant could lead to gastro-intestinal infections. The extent of benefit
obtained among patients with autism offers a good use for use of fecal
transplant as a potential form of therapy in the near future.
- What is FMT? - (http://thefecaltransplantfoundation.org/what-is-fecal-transplant/)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder - (https:medlineplus.gov/autismspectrumdisorder.html)