Bloomberg: Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators

22 Dec

Bloomberg has an article out on how genetic testing is being misused by alternative medical practitioners to justify their “treatments”. The article includes names which might be familiar to those who have followed the online discussions of autism and alt-med: Amy Yasko whose RNA therapy has been widely criticized for implausibility; James Laidler, a doctor who once worked with the DAN movement; and parent-writer Kim Wombles.

The article, Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators begins:

April Hauge, a nurse practitioner in Weimar, California, spent $500 on a genetic test for her autistic son in 2009 that led to purchasing thousands of dollars in vitamins and supplements. Impressed with the results, she’s now selling advice on the approach to others.

There’s just one problem: the DNA tests and related treatments have scant backing from science and U.S. government officials. They’re untested, unproven, and may constitute “health fraud,” doctors, regulators and concerned parents said.

Yes, practitioners order genetic testing ($495 in one example) and then sell therapies supposedly based on these results which can cost the consumer thousands of dollars over the course of “treatment”. The tests are marketing, not science.  There is no real link between the tests, the condition and the treatment.

Discussion of “Dr. Amy’s” RNA therapies go back at least six years.  The idea that ingesting small doses of RNA could treat anything fails the biological plausibility test. Per the Photon in the Darkness blog:

This would be earth-shaking news…if it were true. The sad fact is that the cells in our body have a “thing” about stray RNA. There are enzymes – RNAse’s – that chew up RNA in order to prevent unauthorized “communication” from RNA viruses. These enzymes are in every cell and every body fluid.

There is enough RNAse in a fingerprint to degrade milligrams (1000 micrograms) of RNA in a few minutes. And it’s even worse if you try to ingest the RNA. There are high concentrations of RNAse in both saliva and pancreatic digestive enzymes, so it is highly unlikely that any RNA would survive to be absorbed.

Yes, one’s body is designed to attack and destroy foreign RNA. The full discussion The Alternate RNA Universe. Another can be found at Science Blogs as Autism & RNA????.

Government agencies are aware of the claims made and the lack of a logical link between the tests and the “treatments”.

“A lot of this skims on the edge of health fraud,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, referring to the use of DNA testing to recommend alternative therapies.

But for now, those offering the tests are allowed to “skim” health fraud laws. Laws which may change:

Following public hearings in July 2010, the agency developed guidance for regulating complex genetic and other tests sold by laboratories. The rules have been under review by the Obama administration since late 2011, he said. Until they are finalized, the agency is “somewhat hamstrung” in cracking down on companies that sell the tests, Gutierrez said.

The full article, Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators is online at

By Matt Carey

4 Responses to “Bloomberg: Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators”

  1. Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic) December 23, 2012 at 11:33 #

    I’ve got a flawless DNA test for whether you’re suitable for these crazy cures:

    * Do you have DNA?

    If yes, don’t buy it.

  2. Roger Kulp December 23, 2012 at 15:10 #

    Reading the article,I see the test is for MTHFR mutations.As someone who has been down this road,followed it to it’s ultimate end,and gotten a diagnosis I know exactly what this comes from.MTHFR mutations are a universal feature of autism caused by Cerebral Folate Deficiency,but are not the biomarker for the disease.The biomarkers are the folate autoantibodies.The test for which was not available in 2009.There is only one place in the world that can test for this.The test is for an autoantibody,not a gene.

    Cerebral Folate Deficiency is a very complicated disease,and autism is only one feature of it,and often not even the worst part.There are seizures,serious developmental delays in areas not related to autism,and all sorts of medical problems.The mother usually has it as well,and there is always a strong family history of related medical and psychiatric illnesses to it in her family.I fit the complete picture perfectly.

    The one treatment for it,high dose folinic acid,is a prescription drug,either Leucovorin,or Deplin.It can take two to three years,before you see full benefits,and even then,they are not a cure,it’s more like insulin for a diabetic.Go off your meds,and you both regress,and get sicker again.The “treatments” offered on Dr.Lynch’s web site,are a lot of woo,and BS,and will do nothing to correct CFD.

    There is a debate going on among experts in the disease,if CFD should be considered “true” autism or not.I notice there has been nothing to emerge in the antivax community around CFD,to equal the mitochondria craze that popped up around Hannah Poling.


  1. Bloomberg: Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators - December 22, 2012

    […] Read more at Left Brain Right Brain. […]

  2. Autism Cures Promised by Alternative Medical Practitioners Belied by Regulators | - December 27, 2012

    […] The full article, Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators is online at Source. […]

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