The gut is a “second brain”. The brain controls the body, but the gut and its microbes also control the brain, as does blood and probably other things too.
In late 2014 Scientific American reported in Gut Bacteria May Play a Role in Autism that:
Autism is primarily a disorder of the brain, but research suggests that as many as nine out of 10 individuals with the condition also suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and “leaky gut.” The latter condition occurs when the intestines become excessively permeable and leak their contents into the bloodstream. Scientists have long wondered whether the composition of bacteria in the intestines, known as the gut microbiome, might be abnormal in people with autism and drive some of these symptoms. Now a spate of new studies supports this notion and suggests that restoring proper microbial balance could alleviate some of the disorder's behavioral symptoms.
The Economist May 30 2019 in More evidence that autism is linked to gut bacteria reports that:
What causes ASD has baffled psychiatrists and neurologists since the syndrome was first described, in the mid-20th century, by Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner. But the evidence is pointing towards the bacteria of the gut. That suggestion has been reinforced by two recently published studies—one on human beings and one on laboratory rodents.
Two years ago they tested a process called microbiota transfer therapy (mtt) on 18 autistic children aged between seven and 16. Of their participants 15 were regarded, according to the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, as having “severe” autism.
Crucially, these changes in gut bacteria have translated into behavioural changes. Even 18 weeks after treatment started the children had begun showing reduced symptoms of autism. After two years, only three of them still rated as severe, while eight fell below the diagnostic cut-off point for asd altogether. These eight thus now count as neurotypical.
Meanwhile, the success of the study in Arizona has prompted America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to look into the matter. A firm called Finch Therapeutics Group, based in Massachusetts, hopes to commercialise the use of mtt as a treatment for autism and the fda has now granted this effort “fast track” status, which should speed up the review process
WIND: how awesome that there is now hope of reducing or even curing autism—with gut bacteria of all things!
Siloed specialized knowledge has let autism wreak its havoc, and I daresay many maladies suffer the same fate until multiple specialists put their heads together. Perhaps AI will overcome that in the future and suggest posssibilities for curing many more human health issues.