This summer the Nobel Prizewinner, Luc Montagnier, seemed to lend credibility to homeopathy.
French virologist Luc Montagnier stunned his colleagues at a prestigious international conference when he presented a new method for detecting viral infections that bore close parallels to the basic tenets of homeopathy.
Although fellow Nobel prize winners — who view homeopathy as quackery — were left openly shaking their heads, Montagnier’s comments were rapidly embraced by homeopaths eager for greater credibility.
Montagnier told the conference last week that solutions containing the DNA of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, including HIV, “could emit low frequency radio waves” that induced surrounding water molecules to become arranged into “nanostructures”. These water molecules, he said, could also emit radio waves
He suggested water could retain such properties even after the original solutions were massively diluted, to the point where the original DNA had effectively vanished. In this way, he suggested, water could retain the “memory” of substances with which it had been in contact — and doctors could use the emissions to detect disease.
Luc Montagnier won his Nobel Prize just two years ago, for the discovery of HIV in 1983.
The excellent Gimpy’s blog reports that Montagnier has turned his eye towards autism. He is seeking to use his new found ability to detect infections using “low frequency radiowaves” at the Autism Treatment Trust with a Dr. Skorupka and Dr Amet. Skorupka is described as a DAN! practitioner from Paris; Dr Amet is a neuroscientist, but not a registered medical practitioner. As readers of this blog will be aware DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) practitioners use non-standard biomedical treatments that have little in the way of supporting evidence. Often “studies” in this area (in the US) will be funded by parents.
The Montagnier study as published at the Autism Treatment Trust, hopes to use Montagnier’s alleged ability to detect viruses and bacteria from the “low frequency radio waves” they emit. Montagnier is of the view that “some abnormalities in autism as well as in a whole range of neurological conditions, such as chronic fatigue and multiple sclerosis may be caused by potential infective agents.”, and has recently received a grant from the Autism Research Institute to study bacterial DNA in autism.
There are three main aims to the study:
1- Investigate the possibility that some cases of autism are associated with a range of bacterial infections, based on laboratory testing and clinical examination conducted by Dr. C. Skorupka in Edinburgh.
2- Assess the ASD children for the presence of nanobacteria following Prof Luc Montagnier’s protocol of investigations. The protocol would require a blood draw conducted at the clinic with the help of our nurse. The blood normally has to be centrifugated immediately and the supernatant extracted, then frozen to -80C and shipped on carboice to France.
3- Evaluate the efficacy of antibiotic intervention as well as behavioural evaluations (ATEC and ADOS). This would involve meeting with Dr Skopurpka and Dr. Amet every 2 months and reviewing progress over the phone in the interim month.
The opportunity to take part in this study is going to cost parents serious money:
Cost of study: £1800 (over 6 months).
Antibiotic treatment: £30-60 a month.
For that, you will get:
1. A scan using Montagnier’s new “resonance” screening system for bacterial and virological material.
2. A “very sensitive PCR assay”
3. A progress review by Dr Skorupka and Dr Amet every two month’s, plus interim phone reviews.
4. A blood test at the start of the treatment, and after 6 months of treatment.
5. Behavioral evaluations at the start, and after 6 months of treatment.
The study is restricted to 12 autistic children, involves PCR, has no controls, and involves blood tests. Any alarm bells ringing yet?
The webpage about the study does not show evidence of authorisation by the MHRA (perhaps surprising given the anti-biotic treatment), or having undergone any ethical review in the UK (perhaps surprising given the blood tests and antibiotic treatment in a vulnerable group of children). I have emailed the Autism Research Institute to ask for clarification on this point, and have yet to receive any confirmation of any authorisation. I have therefore emailed the National Research Ethics Service and the MHRA Clinical Trial unit to see if they are aware of the study being registered.
In 2008, when Montagnier was receiving his Nobel prize, The Daily Mail ran a news story “The Great Autism Rip-Off” about the biomedical industry that feeds on vulnerable families with autistic children. The Autism Treatment Trust and Dr Amet were featured in the article (consultation £120, £480 for tests including urine and hair tests, follow-up £400).
At the time, Richard Mills, a director of Research Autism, stated:
“Many of the practitioners who sell these treatments are no better than snake-oil salesmen. This kind of hard-sell approach is completely immoral. Lack of regulation means anyone can set themselves up and claim to be able to successfully treat autism, without any proof that it’s actually possible,”
Who would have guessed that an industry the Daily Mail exposed, would eventually attract the interest of a Nobel Prize Winner?
See also Gimpy’s blog on this study as well.