Immunocal being tested for autism potential
Scientists in Texas are looking into whether or not the whey
protein isolate ingredient Immunocal could lessen the symptoms of
autism by raising glutathione levels in the brain.
A team of researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center in Dallas will be using the proprietary protein supplement marketed
by Immunotec Research of Quebec and manufactured by Glanbia Nutritionals.
Studies have shown levels of the antioxidant
glutathione are typically about 50 percent lower in children with
"We know that Immunocal
has been used to raise glutathione in other studies very effectively
in areas such as cancer and lung disease,” said co-investigator
Dr. Jill James. “We want to take advantage of this same technology".
Autism is a neurological developmental disorder that affects children's
ability to socialize normally, impairs language skills, restricts their
interests and curiosity and causes other behavioral abnormalities. One
in every 175 American children is identified as having autism, but this
rate is rising. Medical treatment of the disorder has been minimally
According to Immunotec, bonded cysteines found in Immunocal
are building blocks for glutathione. Glutathione,
a naturally-occurring protein in our bodies, is responsible for a number
of functions including removing or neutralizing dangerous substances
we are exposed to on a daily basis.
Toxins, pollution, disease, stress, and poor diet can all contribute
to loss of glutathione, said Immunotec.
"Some children with autism are poor detoxifiers
relative to normally developing children, and in particular, have trouble
excreting toxic metals," said the study's principal investigator,
Dr. Janet Kern. "…We want to clearly establish that raising
glutathione levels in these children will improve their ability to detoxify
these substances and in that way improve some of their symptoms."
The research is taking the form of a pilot study to begin with and
will involved between ten and 20 young children suffering autism for
a period of a few months, Immunotec Research's vice president for research
and development John Molson told NutraIngredients-USA.
“It has yet really to be defined,” said Molson of the link
between glutathione supplementation and autism. “But based on
what we've seen anecdotally, the results are favourable.”