The US Patent Office has approved a patent submitted by Arizona State University (ASU) for the use of Microbiota Transplant Therapy (MTT) for treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms.
The news marks a big step forward in the realm of autism treatments but does not yet mean that MTT is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved.
The patent is based on ASU’s Phase 1 study of MTT for children with autism (Kang et al 2017), titled Methods for treating autism spectrum disorder and associated symptoms. The research focuses on methods for treating ASD symptoms by restoring an ASD patient’s gut microbiota. The methods can be used with patients with or without ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms.
Parent approval means that pharmaceutical companies can invest in conducting Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials, which are required for FDA approval and public access to the treatment.
Meanwhile, ASU is continuing its own Phase 2 clinical trials for adults and children on the autism spectrum.
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What is a Microbiota Transplant for autism?
A microbiota transplant usually takes the form of fecal microbial transplantation (FMT), where fecal matter, or stool, from a donor, is placed into the gastrointestinal tract of a patient.
Some studies suggest this treatment can help autistic individuals with the following:
- Behavioral habits and social development
- Language and communication
- Understanding and interacting with their surroundings
- Emotional challenges
Comments from ASU and Autism Parenting Magazine
“This is one important step towards our goal of hopefully making this therapy available to everyone with autism, to improve their health and overall quality of life,” said Professor James B. Adams of ASU Autism/Asperger’s Research Program.
“Many thanks to the children and adults with autism who have participated in our research studies and clinical trials, the thousands of families who have financially supported our research, and the research grants we have received.”
“Emerging research suggests fecal transplants can directly reduce ASD symptoms in children, while there are also studies that show a direct link between the gut and the brain,” commented Mark Blakey, CEO of Autism Parenting Magazine.
“The future of microbiota transplantation is very exciting, and the excellent work from Arizona State University could open up a whole new avenue of treatment for autism families. Further key steps are required but we will be watching with interest.”