A four-year-old boy from Sharjah has become the first child in the UAE to recover from autism — a developmental disability believed to be lifelong.
The news brings hope to the one in 50 children who are estimated to have autism worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The boy, who was diagnosed with non-verbal autism two years ago, has now started mainstream school and has even been told by doctors that he has a high IQ.
The four-year-old’s parents, who requested GN Focus to keep his name confidential, say: "When he was 18 months old he slipped into another world. He would cry all night and eventually lost all eye contact with us — it was like he became somebody else’s child. But we have him back and we want to thank everybody who helped save our son."
The couple took two years of research and trips overseas to find a cure. Then last November, they read about a human protein called Gc-protein-derived Macrophage Activating Factor (GcMAF).
GcMAF has shown dramatic results on a range of viral and neurological conditions including cancer (see box) and autism. It exists in all healthy humans — its work includes kick-starting macrophages in the immune system to fight disease. But viruses and malignant cells such as cancer send out an enzyme called nagalase, which blocks the production of GcMAF and puts macrophages to sleep.
Replacement GcMAF can thus be administered to rebuild the immune system. It is usually given in small weekly injections "the size of a raindrop".
First Immune GcMAF is the first available replacement for natural GcMAF. Produced by biomedical company Immuno Biotech, it is a 24-step extraction process, which then goes through nine tests.
It was top US autism expert Dr Jeffrey Bradstreet who first recognised that increased nagalase was prevalent in the blood of children with autism. Research for a treatment led him to GcMAF and following initial success, he treated about 2,000 children with the substance. Similarly, the boy from Sharjah was administered GcMAF and was put on a special diet along with daily supplements of vitamins D and E, calcium and zinc. Scientists don’t know about the long-term effects of GcMAF, the child’s treatment is ongoing and his school is not aware that their pupil once had autism.
The four-year-old is one of the 3,000 adults and children across the world who have so far undergone preclinical trials. About 85 per cent have seen an improvement in symptoms and 500 no longer suffer from the condition.
Molecular biologist and scientific director of Immuno Biotech Prof. Marco Ruggiero says that his team is working on two theories that will explain why 15 per cent of people are "non-responders".
He indicated there was more to come. "Now that we know the physiological molecular assembly of GcMAF, we have designed specific GcMAF molecules that are effective in treating neurological conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and autism."
Dr Bariah Dardari is a pediatrician with experience in the treatment of autism and biomedical interventions at Al Zahra Hospital. She treats patients with GcMAF and has confirmed that the four-year-old Sharjah resident has made a recovery. "He currently doesn’t meet the criteria for autism though he still experiences mild language delay. He was treated with multiple biomedical intervention but in his case GcMAF gave the best results," she says.
Dr Hibah Shata, Managing Director, Dubai’s Child Early Intervention Medical Center, also has knowledge of the therapy. In California, Dr Jeffrey Bradstreet specialises in both adults and children with autism.
GcMAF can also be ordered online for preclinical trials for €600 (about Dh2,971) for a 2.2ml vial – one vial holds eight doses — on Gcmaf.eu. Experts recommend seeking medical advice before taking it. The website also provides nutritional guidance for both autism and cancer — it suggests vitamin D3 as a daily supplement.
Despite the success of GcMAF in preclinical trials, specialists do not associate the word cure with autism. "I prefer to say recovered in a similar way to the terminology of recovering from the flu," says Dr Bradstreet. "With autism we are still uncertain about what factors — both genetic and environmental — contribute to the symptomatic occurrence of the syndrome. Therefore, we must assume the individual is at risk for relapse."
He adds, "GcMAF has demonstrated better efficacy than immunoglobulin therapy and any other immune intervention I have tried and I believe we are closing in on the actual pathophysiology of autism and more effective solutions."
For Dr Shata, biomedical interventions represent one approach to autism and calling GcMAF a cure is misleading. "Personally, I think it is a great product, but it is still new and not enough research is documented from different parts of the world. GcMAF would improve certain conditions where the immune system is affected as it helps build up a better immune response," she says.
"Individuals with autism need a multidisciplinary approach for treatments. This may include behavioural, social and speech therapy and vocational training."
The discovery of GcMAF goes back to 1990 when Japanese scientist Dr Nobuto Yamamoto proved it was the director of the immune system. It has since been the subject of intense research and 154 scientists have filed some 65 peer-reviewed research papers at the US National Library of Medicine about GcMAF.
Next month, Dr Bradstreet will be a keynote speaker at the GcMAF Immunology Conference in Dubai, held between December 6 and 7. He tells GN Focus, "I will present our evidence on what causes the symptoms we label autism." He will also talk about his first peer-reviewed research paper on the efficacy of GcMAF on autism. He says, "GcMAF is a potent tool that when properly applied has the capacity to do some amazing things and we are only beginning to understand its healing capacity."