Showing posts with label Thymosin alpha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thymosin alpha. Show all posts

Friday 21 January 2022

Thymosin alpha 1 (Thymalfasin/Zadaxin) for auto-immune autism flare-ups?


Today’s post is about a drug originally proposed by Wayne State University in the US, but so far approved and widely used mostly in Asia.  China is the big producer/user and Italy is the outlier where it is also used.


Therapeutic Developed in United States Benefits Many in Asia

Since Wayne State University gastroenterologist Milton Mutchnick, M.D., first proposed using the hormone-like peptide thymosin alpha 1 to combat Hepatitis B in the mid-1980s, the drug has seen both outstanding success and somber letdown. Overseas, thymosin has become an important tool for fighting Hepatitis B, cancers and infections. Within the United States, its promise remains in doubt decades later.


Today we consider repurposing a naturally occurring peptide from the thymus to restore balance/homeostasis to the immune system in people with autism.

It has been well documented in the research (for example by Paul Ashwood at the MIND Institute) that the immune system can be dysfunctional in many people with autism, but in different ways.

Some people with autism suffer from flare-ups when their symptoms get much worse.  These flare-ups can be immune mediated, meaning that the rather complicated pro-inflammatory / anti-inflammatory balance has been disrupted.  A reset is needed.

In some cases, a short course of oral steroids is enough to provide the reset, but often it does not work.

One reader of this blog was proposed by his Italian doctor to try Thymosin alpha 1 shots to treat his son’s autism flare up.  Not surprisingly, living in the UK, he had never heard of Thymosin alpha.







What is Thymosin alpha 1?


The following paper provide an excellent explanation:


Thymosin alpha 1: A comprehensive review of the literature


Thymosin alpha 1 is a peptide naturally occurring in the thymus that has long been recognized for modifying, enhancing, and restoring immune function. Thymosin alpha 1 has been utilized in the treatment of immunocompromised states and malignancies, as an enhancer of vaccine response, and as a means of curbing morbidity and mortality in sepsis and numerous infections.

Thymosin alpha 1 has long been recognized as an immune enhancing, immune modulating, as well as an immune restoring agent, and as such it has been utilized in several clinical and research settings. The synthetic form of thymosin alpha 1, thymalfasin, is approved in more than 35 countries for the treatment of hepatitis B and C and as an immune enhancer in several other diseases


Thymosin alpha 1 functions as a toll-like receptor (TLR)-9 and TLR-2 agonist in both myeloid and dendritic cells, the professional antigen-presenting cells. By targeting TLRs, thymosin alpha 1 can stimulate the adaptive immune response, which is essential for fighting viral, bacterial, and fungal infections and cancers, as well as stimulation of posterior humoral immunity. Additionally, thymosin alpha 1 can increase levels of IL-2, IL-10, IL-12, interferon (IFN)-α, and IFN-γ. The role of thymosin alpha 1 in stimulating T-cell dependent antibody production is also the reason why it has been considered as a vaccine adjuvant for enhancing response to vaccines.

Thymosin alpha 1 has a wide range of biological activities that range from anti-tumor to immune-modulating properties. The immune response of thymosin alpha 1 is due to its action in elevating the activity of T cell maturation into CD4+/CD8+ T cells. It works to directly activate natural killer cells as well as CD8+ T cells through which it kills virally infected cells. Thymosin alpha 1 has a negative effect on IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α, which in turn leads to a decreased inflammatory response and is quite beneficial in conditions such as chronic hepatitis and acute pancreatitis.


 Thymosin alpha 1 has a wide range of biological activities. IL: Interleukin; IFN: Interferon; TLR: Toll-like receptors.


Thymosin alpha 1 has exhibited the ability to restrain tumor growth, hence its use in the treatment of various cancers. It has anti-proliferative properties which have been exhibited in lung and liver tumor metastases.

Since thymosin alpha 1 is a polypeptide naturally present in the thymus, it plays a fundamental role in the control of inflammation, immunity, and tolerance. Thymosin alpha 1 has an immune-modulating action through its interaction with toll-like receptors. Due to the action of thymosin alpha 1 on other cell types, it is used as a therapeutic agent for diseases with evident immune dysfunction. Clinical trials with thymosin alpha 1 for diseases like DiGeorge syndrome, non-small cell lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatitis B and C, HIV, and melanoma have been conducted and yielded promising results. FDA approved the orphan drug thymalfasin (Zadaxin) for treatment of malignant melanoma, chronic active hepatitis B, DiGeorge anomaly with immune defects, and hepatocellular carcinoma due to its immunomodulatory and anti-tumor effect.



Thymosin alpha 1 for auto-immune autism flare-ups? 

Thymosin alpha 1 is no wonder drug for autism, but it looks like it has a place in the autism toolbox, for when symptoms take a sharp turn for the worse and you need a reset back to your baseline autism.

If it solves the flare-up, great.  If not, you just move on to the next option. 



Italy does seem to have a different view of medicine.  They are big on the medical use of probiotic bacteria. They have treatments for GI problems that seem to be unheard of in other countries. It is home to the novel idea, that I found appealing, to use nerve growth factor (NGF) eyedrops to prevent dementia.

Italy is also home to the use of Thymosin alpha 1 shots, to reset the immune system after an immune-related autism flare-up.  I think it is a great idea and I doubt it is expensive.

Most readers of this blog are in North America, where Thymosin alpha 1 is not an approved drug. In China, India, Italy and another 30 countries it is widely available. 

As Zadaxin, Thymosin alpha 1, is produced by SciClone Pharmaceuticals in China.  They provide the following summary:


It looks like our readers who have an autism doctor in Italy have some interesting options. 

Wayne State University never sought patent protection for Thymosin alpha 1 in China, which they now regret.