Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario may have developed a vaccine to help people suffering from autism with gut-related issues.
Though autism is a neural disorder, more than 90 percent of children diagnosed with autism also suffer from chronic, severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea. The gastrointestinal symptoms are likely caused by the bacteria Clostridium bolteae, which is found in higher amounts in autistic children.
This research was published in this month’s Vaccine journal and was conducted by Brittany Pequegnat and Mario Monteiro. The vaccine is a carbohydrate-based antibody that attacks the excess bacteria in order to stymie any gut-based symptoms associated with autism.
“Little is known about the factors that predispose autistic children to C. bolteae,” Monteiro said, explaining that most infections are currently treated with antibiotics, and that a vaccine would be a higher quality treatment option. “This is the first vaccine designed to control constipation and diarrhea caused by C. bolteae and perhaps control autism-related symptoms associated with this microbe.”
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While testing the vaccine, the researchers were able to successfully increase the C. bolteae antibodies in rabbits. The next stage will be to test it in preclinical and human trials, which is expected to take well over a decade.
Monteiro, however, explains that despite the time it will take to see any results, this is “a significant first step in the design of a multivalent vaccine against several autism-related gut bacteria.”