Catalyst: Bacteria to improve autism symptoms

Scientists are learning more about how our health is connected to having the right kind of microbes living in our digestive tract. Researchers are also getting a better understanding of what causes autism. The Catalyst science team reports on an innovative pair of ASU researchers who connected those two spheres of science with the hope of improving the lives of kids with autism.

While the number of kids struggling with autism spectrum disorder seems to be on a steady increase, so do methods of treatment for autism symptoms. Dr. James Adams and Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown are two dedicated researchers at Arizona State University. Together, they have developed a treatment for ASD symptoms that may seem a little taboo: microbiotic transplant, or transfer therapy is a way to introduce microbes from healthy people into people whose gut, for whatever reason, is not so healthy.

According to Dr. Adams, of ASU’s School of Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy, children who had more gut symptoms also had worse autism symptoms across the board.

“Looking at this data gave us the idea that adding good microbes could possible help these children,” said Dr. Krajmalnik-Brown, of ASU’s Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes. “So we designed a trial.”

The treatment is bacteria derived from human fecal matter. The trial used antibiotic and a bowel cleanse to clear out gut bacteria – good and bad – and then “replanted” with microbiota from healthy donors.

“Overall, there was about an 80% reduction in gut symptoms,” said Dr. Adams. Slowly, the children’s a

Sponsor message:

In this segment:

Dr. James Adams
Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown

Sponsor message:

Human: The World Within

Through the lens of four different people, go deep into the universe of the most powerful machine on earth: the human brain.

'Atlantic Crossing' on Masterpiece

Atlantic Crossing

A princess steals the president's heart in this drama based on the relationship of Franklin Roosevelt and Norwegian Crown Princess Martha.

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Discover the little-known story of the innovations in science and medicine that doubled the human lifespan in less than a century.