February 19, 2012 by admin in Autism, Featured, Science
http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/2012-02-19/autism-is-a-research-growth-area-no-profit-in-finding-the-cause/ The Mind of the Autism Researcher Attempts to prove that autism is genetic, physical, or chemical in nature continue unabated. It’s proven to be a most lucrative specialty for researchers. However, the studies that promote the genetics-not-vaccine concept tend to show only the effects of autism. They demonstrate nothing to indicate the actual cause, though they often imply, or even outright state, otherwise. That alone should tell us what’s become of most autism research: it’s a growth area. Autism research has become very much the same as Big Pharma-based medicine. In fact, much of it is funded by pharmaceutical corporations. To find a disease cause and solution to prevent disease isn’t profitable. However, to find even the most minuscule physical, genetic, or chemical change in someone with an existing disease means that even more money can be squeezed out of the research funders like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), agencies funded by taxpayers. Anything that leads away from causes and focuses on the physiochemical effects of autism always leads to more questions and more research funds. Gaia Health recently documented an autism study demonstrating that it shows the opposite of what is claimed. The authors attempt to demonstrate that physical changes in the brains of autistics shows that vaccines could not be the cause. In reality, the study shows a close parallel between those changes and autism’s development. That fact, though, could not be mentioned. It would likely have resulted in the researchers’ funding sources drying up.
Study: White Matter Changes in Autism A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry(1) says that children defined as high risk for developing autism become autistic because of changes in the brain’s white matter, and that autism can be predicted in advance based on MRIs showing such changes. This is all fine and dandy—but it says precisely nothing about what causes these changes. This study has a continuing medical education couse associated with it on MedPage Today. Passing the related test of two simple questions provides the reader, who is presumed to be a doctor, with .25 CME units. The doctor can easily collect these training credits within a few minutes, never leaving the comfort of home or office, or more significantly, without even having to bother reading the study itself. No thought process is required to determine whether the study holds any validity. The single-page course simply summarizes and regurgitates the study’s claims with no attempt to analyze whether it’s meaningful. The result of this is sure to be yet more MRI tests on infants, which will, of course, further increase the cost of medicine and will likely produce no benefit to children—unless yet another toxic drug is considered helpful.
Study: Genetic Changes in Autism Another study, published in PLoS Genetics(2), states that functional mutations in the SHANK2 gene, resulting in changes in synapses, are associated with some, but not all, autism. A functional mutation is not a birth defect. It is caused by something. However, the study researchers weren’t interested in what causes the SHANK2 gene to be damaged. They were quite satisfied with the idea that the damage was just spontaneous. One would have thought that the researchers would at least be curious about what causes these changes—but apparently curiosity that doesn’t bring in big financial payments has been bred out of researchers. Their interest was only in the idea where the finding indicates that several genes acting in combination must be associated with autism. Author Bergeron states: There are so many combinations that might be important. We still have a lot of work to do at the genetic level. Wow! Those researchers may have found a mother lode of research grants for all the follow-up research that they can now claim should be done. Just imagine the money that’s going to be made by Big Pharma in vaccines or drugs to treat the broken SHANK2 genes. Obviously, finding the cause of those broken genes would interfere with the profits to be made in attempts to fix them.
Study: Brain Activity Changes in Face Recognition A study published in Nature Neuroscience(3) claims that functional MRIs can examine the fusiform gyrus, a part of the brain believed to focus on face identification, and that it will be able to study people—specifically, autistics—who are too unresponsive to cooperate in such studies. Author J.D. Gabrieli told the Simons Foundation: Functional brain studies have been limited to the most high-functioning individuals, because we had to use active tasks that required following instructions. This method may open ways to look at the many autism patients who cannot follow task instructions. Thus, this study has been performed to pave the way for yet more studies of autistic people. Whether it might actually benefit them is … well, that doesn’t seem to be the issue.
The Third Rail of Medical Research There exists just one thing that autism researchers won’t touch: the cause. It’s the third rail of medical research. Autism has developed into a huge money-maker for modern medicine and its supporting agencies. Big Pharma is now selling drugs to send autistic kids to oblivion and further damage their brains. Doctors have a huge group of children whose parents are conditioned to take them back over and over again for tests and treatments, none of which help. Agencies and charities have organized to promote awareness of the condition and, in most cases, to promote the well-being of the top-line managers’ pay. Researchers and medical journals all help feed into this newly profitable condition. None of them actually help. For that, you must leave the modern medical system and find alternatives. If the cause of autism were officially found. The focus would be on prevention. But then, none of this enormous pool of money could be tapped by any of these groups. Their bottom line is benefited by putting on blinders to the most likely cause, vaccines. To that end, they’ve established a PR campaign to convince the public—not to mention their own members—that vaccines aren’t the cause of autism and that autism isn’t truly a new disorder, but one that was previously unrecognized. Of course, as most parents of autistic children can state without reservation, there is no possibility that what’s happened to their children could ever have gone unnoticed. So, they’ve developed a most magnificent arrangement of patting each others’ backs: The doctors get to take absurdly simple CME courses that tell of phony breakthroughs, thus getting that nuisance requirement of continuing education out of the way without stress.
Medical websites that take most of their money from Big Pharma can pump out these nonsensical courses, pulling doctors to their sites for the easy ride.
Doctors get more and more patients.
Medical suppliers get to sell more and more equipment for tests.
Big Pharma gets to develop new drugs and find ways to push old ones on autism sufferers.
To support it all and give the seal of so-called “evidence based medicine” to these practices, medical researchers produce study after study, all of them focused on anything but finding the cause of autism. It’s a cozy arrangement for everyone but the autistic children, their families, and society as a whole. Finding the cause would shut down the researchers’ gushing funding tap, and preventing autism would cut into all arenas of this exploding area of the medical industry. Sources: (1)Differences in White Matter Fiber Tract Development Present from 6 to 24 Months in Infants with Autism, doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.11091447.
(2)Genetic and Functional Analyses of SHANK2 Mutations Suggest a Multiple Hit Model of Autism Spectrum Disorders
(3)Anatomical connectivity patterns predict face selectivity in the fusiform gyrus, doi: 10.1038/nn.3001
Elena Cecchetto DCH, CCH, RSHom(NA)
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