Showing posts with label austim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label austim. Show all posts

Friday 5 February 2016

Propranolol, Autism and Sodium Ion Channels Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3 and Nav1.5

When writing this blog I frequently wonder what happened to all the very clever people; why are these full-time paid researchers often missing the obvious?

Boy with severe headache and ASD, awaiting Propranolol

The answer is, with a few notable exceptions (Catterall, Ben-Ari etc), the clever ones do not study autism, they study things that are much better defined, rare things like Angelman Syndrome and, recently, Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome.  These researchers seem much more rigorous.  For example:-

David Sweatt (Pitt Hopkins)

Pitt–Hopkins Syndrome: intellectual disability due to loss of TCF4-regulated gene transcription

Edwin Weeber (Angelman syndrome)

So autism is left to what might be termed the Baron Cohen brigade.


Propranolol is a medication of the beta blocker type.  It is used to treat high blood pressure, a number of types of irregular heart rate, thyrotoxicosis, performance anxiety, and essential tremors. It is used to prevent migraine headaches, and to prevent further heart problems in those with angina or previous heart attacks.

It is a nonselective beta blocker which works by blocking β-adrenergic receptors.

While once a first-line treatment for hypertension, they do not perform as well as other drugs, particularly in the elderly, and evidence is increasing that the most frequently used beta blockers at usual doses carry an unacceptable risk of provoking type 2 diabetes.

Beta blockers block the action of endogenous catecholamines epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine(noradrenaline) on adrenergic beta receptors, of the sympathetic nervous system, which mediates the fight-or-flight response. Some block all activation of β-adrenergic receptors and others are selective.

It is occasionally used to treat performance anxiety.   Given the effect (above) on the fight or flight response this is logical.

The sympathetic nervous system's primary process is to stimulate the body's fight-or-flight response. It is, however, constantly active at a basic level to maintain homeostasis.

Evidence to support the use in other anxiety disorders is poor.

But what the ever useful Wikipedia almost glosses over is the part I find more interesting:-

Now we have to hope that cardiologists prescribing Propranolol are fully aware of the role of Nav1.5 in the heart and its role in heart rate.  This has nothing to do with it being a beta blocker.

Hopefully neurologists prescribing it for certain severe headaches understand the role of Nav1.1 in the brain.

It would not surprise me if they did not.

Propranolol earlier in this Blog

Earlier in this blog there are comments regarding the use of low doses of Propranolol to treat anxiety in autism.

Some people report it works wonders, while for others it did nothing.


Propranolol in Autism Research

A study was published recently and a reader drew my attention to it, but there have also been a few others.

Blood pressure medicine may improve conversational skills of individuals with autism

An hour after administration, the researchers had a structured conversation with the participants, scoring their performance on six social skills necessary to maintain a conversation: staying on topic, sharing information, reciprocity or shared conversation, transitions or interruptions, nonverbal communication and maintaining eye contact. The researchers found the total communication scores were significantly greater when the individual took propranolol compared to the placebo.
"Though more research is needed to study its effects after more than one dose, these preliminary results show a potential benefit of propranolol to improve the conversational and nonverbal skills of individuals with autism," said Beversdorf


Effect of propranolol on verbal problem solving in autism spectrum disorder

Effect of Propranolol on Functional Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder—A Pilot Study

Back to Channelopathies

There are 24,000 human genes, but a much more manageable number of ion channels.  For each ion channel or transporter, there is a gene that expresses it.

When ion channels malfunction, it is called a channelopathy.  Channelopathies are quite well researched and very common in autism.  Early on in this blog I simplified idiopathic classic autism with the following chart.

I suspect that people with channelopathies (Nav1.1, Nav1,2, Nav1.3) caused by dysfunctions in the genes SCN1A, SCN2A, SCN3A are the ones that will most benefit from Propranolol.

I suspect those people will already suffer terrible headaches and/or seizures.

These three channelopathies have been known to be associated with autism for ten years.

Nav1.1 / SCN1A

Migraine, other headaches

Regular readers will know that Professor Catterall is the expert on sodium channels and here he is again below

Nav1.2 / SCN2A

Epileptic encephalopathy, early infantile, 11 (EIEE11): An autosomal dominant seizure disorder characterized by neonatal or infantile onset of refractory seizures with resultant delayed neurologic development and persistent neurologic abnormalities. Patients may progress to West syndrome, which is characterized by tonic spasms with clustering, arrest of psychomotor development, and hypsarrhythmia on EEG

Nav1.3 / SCN3A

neuronal hyperexcitability and epilepsy 

         Novel SCN3A variants associated with focal epilepsy in             children.

Nav1.5 / SCN5A

Mainly heart conditions, since this ion channel is expressed mainly in the heart.

Autism and Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3

For many years it has been known that the hundreds of variations in the genes SCN1A, SCN2A and SCN3A are associated with autism.  So we can consider them pretty well established autism genes.

Clearly any drug affecting expression of those genes, or affecting the ion channels they express, should be a target autism drug.


Some people with autism and severe headaches, or epilepsy, have an underlying sodium channelopathy.  Sodium channel blockers are not as well understood/ developed as calcium channel blockers.

In some cases, but maybe not all, this should be detectable by genetic testing of the genes SCN1A, SCN2A and SCN3A.

If you live in a country that does not bother with genetic testing, you might want to fall back on trial and error and discuss Propranolol with your doctor.

Did all the people with Asperger’s, in the recent study, who became more conversational after a single dose of Propranolol, have problems with Nav1.1, Nav1.2 or Nav1.3 ?  I doubt it.  The other commonly known effects of Propranolol should also play a role.

But for a sub-set of people with Strictly Defined Autism, Propranolol might be hugely beneficial.  Perhaps Professor Catterall should investigate?

Friday 16 October 2015

It’s not Autism, it’s Sotos Syndrome – and more about GABA therapies

I recently returned from a 25 year class reunion; of the 200 or so class members about 120 turned up. Of the 200 we know that at least 5 have a son with autism and at least one has a nephew with autism.  So I had my first ever “autism lunch” discussing all those tricky issues we are left to deal with.

What was immediately apparent was how different each child’s “autism” was and that none of them were the autism-lite variants that are now being so widely diagnosed in older children. or even adults .  Of the six, two are non-verbal, one is institutionalized, yet one talks a lot.  Three sets of parents are big ABA fans and one child did not respond to ABA.

You may be wondering about that high incidence of autism.  This was not a gathering of science boffins or mathematicians; this was at a business school.  One thing is obvious, you can correlate some autism incidence with educational level.  You can connect all sorts of measures of IQ to autism, from having a math prodigy in the family, to having professors at Ivy league type Universities, particularly in Mathematics.  It does appear to be true that the so-called clever genes are also associated with some types of autism.

I presume that if my science-only university organized such events the incidence of autism would be even higher.

On the way back home we met an acquaintance at the airport, who was telling us all about his son with Sotos Syndrome.  "It is not autism", we were informed, but then I am not quite sure what is.  When you look it up, many of the symptoms look just like autism.  In fact, it is a single gene dysfunction that leads to gigantism and various elements of autism.

This brings me to the painting above of Peter the Wild Boy; it is not me I should point out.  The above Peter was a German boy who came to live in England in the 18th Century; he was non-verbal and is now thought to have had Pitt Hopkins Syndrome.  Like Sotos, this is another very rare single gene disorder.

We have already come across Rett Syndrome, which for some reason is treated as autism.

Fragile X is thought of as a syndrome where autism can be comorbid.

Timothy Syndrome is fortunately extremely rare, but I have already drawn on it in my own research into autism.

There are also autism related disorders involving multiple genes.

Prader–Willi syndrome  is a rare genetic disorder in which seven genes (or some subset thereof) on chromosome 15 (q 11–13) are deleted or unexpressed (chromosome 15q partial deletion) on the paternal chromosome.  If the maternally derived genetic material from the same region is affected instead, the sister Angelman Syndrome is the result.

The most frequent disorder caused by known multiple gene overexpression is Down Syndrome.  We saw in earlier post that DS is caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21.  This results in over-expression of some 300 genes.

Why So Many Syndromes

Even before the days of genetic testing, these syndromes had been identified.  How could that be?  Each syndrome is marked by clear physical differences.

These physical differences where used to identify those affected.

Within autism too, sometimes there are physical differences.  Big heads, small heads, slim stature or heavy stature, advanced bone age or retarded bone age.

So many syndromes , but no therapies

Many of the rare syndromes have their own foundations funding research, mainly on the basis that if there is a known genetic dysfunction there should be matching therapy somewhere.

As of today, there are no approved therapies for any of these syndromes.

The Futility of Genetic Research?

A great deal of autism research funding goes into looking for target genes.  The idea goes that once you know which gene is the problem you can work out how to correct it.  There are numerous scientific journal dedicated to this approach.

Since no progress has been made in treating known genetic conditions leading to “autism”, is all this research effort well directed?  Some clever researchers think it is not.

All I can do is make my observations from the side lines.

What do Down Syndrome, Autism and Pitt Hopkins Syndrome all have in common?

In at least some of those affected, they have the identical excitatory-inhibitory imbalance of GABA, that can be corrected by Bumetanide.

If you did whole exome genetic testing on the responders with these three conditions you would not find a common genetic dysfunction; and yet they respond to the same therapy.

I am actually all for continued genetic research, but those involved have got to understand its limitations, as well as its potential.

More on GABA

This post returns to the theme of the dysfunctional GABA neurotransmitter because the research indicates it is present in numerous of the above-mentioned conditions. 

·        Autism
·        Fragile X
·        Rett Syndrome
·        Down Syndrome
·        Neurofibromatosis type 1
·        Tourette syndrome
·        Schizophrenia
·        Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)
·        Prader-Willi syndrome
·        Angelman Syndrome

Based on feedback to me, we should add Pitt Hopkins Syndrome to the above list.

The GABA dysfunction is not the same in all the above conditions, but at least in some people, Bumetanide is effective in cases of autism, Down Syndrome and Pitt Hopkins Syndrome.  I suspect that since it works in mice with Fragile-X , it will work in at least some humans.

GABAA has already been covered in some depth in this blog, but I am always on the lookout for more on this subject, since interventions are highly effective.  It is complicated, but for those of you using Bumetanide, Low Dose Clonazepam, Oxytocin and some even Diamox, the paper below will be of interest.

Regular readers will know that in autism high levels of chloride Cl inside the neuron have been shown to make GABA excitatory rather than inhibitory.  This leads to neurons firing too frequently;  this results in effects ranging from anxiety to seizures and with reduced cognitive functioning.  Therapies revolve around reducing chloride levels, this can be done by restricting the flow in ,or by increasing the flow out.  The Na+/K+/Cl cotransporter NKCC1  imports Cl into the neuron.  By blocking this transporter using Bumetanide you can achieve lower Cl within the neuron, but with this drug you also affect NKCC2, an isoform present in the kidney, which is why Bumetanide is a diuretic.  Some experimental drugs are being tested that block NKCC1 without affecting NKCC2 and better cross the blood brain barrier. 

The interesting new approach is to restore Cl balance by increasing KCC2 expression at the plasma membrane.  This means increasing the number of transporters that carry  Cl  out of the neurons.

In the Modulation of GABAergic transmission paper there is no mention of acetazolamide (Diamox) which I suggested in my posts could also reduce Cl, but via the AE3 exchanger.  This would explain why Diamox can reduce seizures in some people.

The paper does mention oxytocin and it does occur to me that babies born via Cesarean/Caesarean section will completely miss this surge of the oxytocin hormone.  This oxytocin surge is suggested to be key to the GABA switch, which should occur soon after birth when GABA switches from excitatory to inhibitory.  In much autism this switch never takes place.

That would suggest that perhaps all babies born via Caesarean section should perhaps receive an artificial dose of oxytocin at birth.  This might then reduce the incidence of GABA dysfunctions in later life, which would include autism and some epilepsy.

Indeed, children born by Caesarean section (CS) are 20% more likely to develop autism.

Conclusions and Relevance  This study confirms previous findings that children born by CS are approximately 20% more likely to be diagnosed as having ASD. However, the association did not persist when using sibling controls, implying that this association is due to familial confounding by genetic and/or environmental factors.

So as not to repeat the vaccine/autism scare, the researchers do not say that Caesarean section leads to more autism, rather that the kinds of people who are born by Caesarean section already had an elevated risk of autism.  This is based on analysing sibling pairs, but I do not entirely buy into that argument.  They do not want to scare people from having a procedure that can be life-saving for mother and baby.

If you look at it rationally, you can see that the oxytocin surge at birth is there for an evolutionary reason.  It is very easy to recreate it with synthetic oxytocin.

Another interesting point is in the conflict of interest statement:-

Laura Cancedda is on the Provisional Application: US 61/919,195, 2013. Modulators of Intracellular Chloride Concentration For Treating An Intellectual Disability

Regular readers will note that in this blog we have known for some time that modifying GABAA leads to improved cognitive function.  I even suggested to Ben-Ari that IQ should be measured in their autism trials for Bumetanide.  IQ is much less subjective than measures of autism.


My conclusion is that while genetic testing has its place, it is more productive to look at identifying and treating the downstream dysfunctions that are shared by many individual genetic dysfunctions.

By focusing on individual genes there is a big risk of just giving up, so if you have Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, like Peter the Wild Boy, it is a single gene cause of “autism” and there is no known therapy.  Well it seems that it shares downstream consequences with many other types of autism, so it is treatable after all.

I also think more people need to consider that cognitive dysfunction (Intellectual Disability/MR) may indeed be treatable, and not just via GABA; so good luck to Laura Cancedda.

Monday 29 June 2015

MitoE, MitoQ and Melatonin as possible therapies for Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism. Or Dimebon (Latrepirdine) from Russia?

I did write an earlier post on Melatonin:-

Many people with either ADHD or ASD are taking Melatonin to help them sleep better. 

In most countries, other than United Kingdom, Melatonin is available cheaply as a supplement.

This post is about potential therapies for mitochondrial disease/dysfunction.  In this case disease/ dysfunction do not mean the same thing.  Some people appear to have mitochondrial disease of genetic origin that then triggers autistic regression.  Other people with different types of autism, which usually features oxidative stress, appear in various studies to have some mitochondrial dysfunction/abnormalities.  Mitochondria are very important to most aspects of human function.   Impairment of function is associated with many diseases.  In the case of the brain, both Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.

In the case of autism secondary to mitochondrial dysfunction, Dr Richard Kelley from Johns Hopkins has written about his therapy.  He focuses on reducing further oxidative damage and suggests that over time the brain can repair itself.  It was explained here:-

Other researchers like Chauhan and others on my Deans List, suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction affects non-regressive autism.

So antioxidants that target the mitochondria should be interesting for those with classic early-onset autism.


Melatonin has 4 main functions:- 

Circadian rhythm – regulation of the day-night cycle and hence sleep


Melatonin is a powerful free-radical scavenger and wide-spectrum antioxidant.  In many less complex life forms, this is its only known function.  Melatonin is an antioxidant that can easily cross cell membranes and the blood–brain barrier. This antioxidant is a direct scavenger of radical oxygen and nitrogen species including OH, O2, and NO.  Melatonin works with other antioxidants to improve the overall effectiveness of each antioxidant.  Melatonin has been proven to be twice as active as vitamin E, believed to be the most effective lipophilic antioxidant. An important characteristic of melatonin that distinguishes it from other classic radical scavengers is that its metabolites are also scavengers in what is referred to as the cascade reaction. Also different from other classic antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, melatonin has amphiphilic properties, this means it possesses both hydrophilic (water-loving, polar) and lipophilic (fat-loving) properties.

Immune system

While it is known that melatonin interacts with the immune system, the details of those interactions are unclear. Anti-inflammatory effect seems to be the most relevant and most documented in the literature. There have been few trials designed to judge the effectiveness of melatonin in disease treatment. Most existing data are based on small, incomplete clinical trials. Any positive immunological effect is thought to be the result of melatonin acting on high-affinity receptors (MT1 and MT2) expressed in immunocompetent cells. In preclinical studies, melatonin may enhance cytokine production, and by doing this counteract acquired immunodeficiences. Some studies also suggest that melatonin might be useful fighting infectious disease including viral, such as HIV, and bacterial infections, and potentially in the treatment of cancer.

Metal chelation

In vitro, melatonin can form complexes with cadmium and other metals.

Today’s post is only about the anti-oxidant potential of Melatonin, since that is likely what accounts for to its activity in mitochondria.

Oxidative Stress in Autism

We have seen time and again in this blog that Oxidative Stress is fundamental part of most types of autism. A further study, published three months ago, showed it was present in more than 88% of cases.  So it is about time that people started to treat it, rather than just write about it.

We have reviewed many antioxidants in this blog and it is apparent that there is not a one size fits all solution.  For Monty, aged 11 with ASD, NAC is the best; in other people ALA and/or carnosine have an additional effect.

We saw that Mitochondrial Disease occurring in childhood can present itself as severe regressive autism.  This autism secondary to Mitochondrial Disease is treatable, and once stabilized, symptoms gradually improved.  The therapy is centered on antioxidants to prevent further mitochondrial damage.

Other research has found that mitochondrial damage/dysfunction occurs in the majority of young people with autism, but not adults.  This research is based on analyzing samples from brain banks.

In an earlier post we looked at autophagy and Mitophagy.  This is in effect the cellular spring cleaning that should go on to ensure cellular health.  

I hypothesize that hyper-activation of calpains, also a feature of Alzheimer’s and Huntingdon’s disease, that leads to altered calcium homeostasis, may exist in autism.  This would explain the excess of intracellular calcium found in autism.  This would cause a decrease in autophagy/mitophagy and might account to the mitochondrial damage seen in brain samples.

All this means that it is worth a second look at oxidative stress in mitochondria in kids whose autism was not regressive.

The good news is that all the research already exists.

There is much recent research into the use of melatonin in autism, for reasons other than sleep.  It seems that at 3X higher than the sleep dose, the other effects become established.  So this would be about 10mg for many children.

There is a French study (MELDOSE)  that has just been completed that looks specifically into the dosage.


MitoQ and MitoE

When we looked at antioxidants a while back, it became clear that it is a case of “horses for courses”; meaning that if you want to improve memory one anti-oxidant is best, but it you want to treat an enlarged prostate another is best.

This meant to be an autism blog, but it is sometimes useful to digress.

The antioxidant has to reach its target destination and ideally it should accumulate there.  This means that the concentration is much higher at the target, than in the blood.

The reason why lycopene is great for the prostate, and is chemo-protective there, is that it happens to accumulates there.  The more you take orally the higher the level becomes locally.  Lycopene would be useless to treat mild memory loss, because it cannot cross the blood brain barrier.  So it is cocoa flavonoids for memory loss and lycopene for urinary retention (in males).

When it comes to statin induced myopathy, the official line is that the only effective treatment is to stop using the statin.  However many people find coenzymeQ10 makes mild pains go away.  Statins are known to deplete the body’s own coenzymeQ10 in mitochondria.  Some extra anti-oxidant coenzymeQ10 as a therapy for mild statin induced myopathy, makes perfect sense to me.  It is certainly safe to try.

When it comes to diabetic neuropathies, in countries whose medicine is German-based, we have already seen that the antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is widely used as an effective drug therapy.  In most Anglo-Saxon countries it is not used as a drug for diabetic neuropathies.  In Dr Kelley’s mitochondrial therapy for regressive autism he uses 10 mg/kg/day of ALA.

EPI-743 is a new drug that is based on vitamin E, another antioxidant.  It is being developed as a therapy for various types of mitochondrial disease, including Rett syndrome.

It has been suggested that a very similar product to EPI-743 already exists and is an OTC supplement.  In order to patent a drug it cannot be a natural substance, so I think Edison made something based on vitamin E that was different enough to be patentable.
I have mentioned it somewhere on this blog, I think it is Life Extension Gamma E Tocopherol/ Tocotrienols.

MitoE looks like the perfect vitamin E-based mitochondrial antioxidant.

MitoE  is cleverly made by attaching tocopherol (vitamin E) to a lipophilic cation that can accumulate several hundred-fold within mitochondria due to the negative charge inside mitochondria, delivering tocopherol in a high concentration.

When it comes to the mitochondria we have three interesting choices:-

  • MitoQ
  • MitoE
  • Melatonin

MitoQ  is made by attaching attached ubiquinol (a form of coenzyme Q10.) to a lipophilic cation that accumulate several hundred-fold within mitochondria due to the negative charge inside mitochondria, delivering ubiquinol in high concentrations.

While Dr Kelley uses coenzyme Q10 for autism, the Ubiquinol form is available.  If you believe the advertising, you need much less  Ubiquinol to achieve the same increase in circulating coenzymeQ10.

MitoQ is available as a supplement but at a dosage 90% less than that used in clinical trials.

It is being sold as an anti-aging therapy, the same type of people also use melatonin for the same purpose.

I would think that people with stain induced myopathy that does not respond to Coenzyme Q10 might want to try MitoQ before giving up on their statin.

In some people melatonin seems to lose its effect after a while (feedback loop to the Pineal gland?), the could keep the antioxidant effect in mitochondria by switching to MitoQ.

"When compared to synthetic, mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants (MitoQ and MitoE), melatonin proved to be a better protector against mitochondrial oxidative stress."

MitoE vs MitoQ vs Melatonin

In the following study they compared the potency of MitoE, MitoQ and melatonin.

Melatonin, which is cheap, did very well

  • Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are key to the pathophysiology of sepsis.
  • The effects of antioxidants targeted to mitochondria on inflammation, oxidative stress, and organ dysfunction were tested in a rat model of acute sepsis.
  • Antioxidant treatment reduced mitochondrial damage, sepsis-induced inflammation, and organ dysfunction, a positive finding that should be tested in clinical trials.

MitoQ and MitoE are antioxidants attached to a lipophilic cation that accumulate several hundred-fold within mitochondria due to the negative charge inside mitochondria, delivering ubiquinol or tocopherol, respectively

Melatonin and its main metabolite 6-hydroxymelatonin also reduced cytokine responses, prevented mitochondrial dysfunction, and protected endogenous antioxidants in the same model

We hypothesized that MitoE and melatonin may have a similar beneficial effect in rats treated with LPS and PepG. In this proof-of-concept study, we investigated the effects of treatment with MitoQ, MitoE, or melatonin on biomarkers of organ damage, cytokine responses, oxidative damage, and mitochondrial function after administration of LPS from Escherichia coli plus PepG from Staphylococcus aureus in rats. This model reproducibly creates an inflammatory response, with mitochondrial dysfunction and early changes in organ function also seen in patients with sepsis

Dimebon (Latrepirdine)  

Dimebon is a Russian H1 anti-histamine, like Claritin.  Unlike Claritin it has some very unexpected effects on mitochondria and also NMDA receptors (and others).

A great deal of money was spent (wasted) in the US trying to make the renamed drug, Latrepirdine, into a treatment for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.  The results in mice looked great and the Stage II trials in Russia looked great, but the phase 3 trials failed.

There is a great deal of data on Dimebon (Latrepirdine) and it has many interesting effects.  It should make the mitochondria work better, be neuroprotective and it should reduce activity at NMDA receptors.

So for a subgroup of people with autism and some mitochondrial dysfunction, this 20 years old antihistamine might be very helpful.

There are claims for it being nootropic, meaning it makes you smarter, but nobody has suggested it for autism.  But then nobody has suggested MitoE or MitoQ for autism either. 

Many antihistamines have secondary actions and we have covered some in this blog like Cyproheptadine.  Rupatadine and Azelastine are H1 antihistamines that are potent mast cell stabilizers.

In the West you can buy Dimebon from the nootropic people, I expect in Russia is it just a cheap 20 year old hay fever pill.
In the recent clinical trials in humans the low dose was 5mg three times a day and the high dose was 20mg  three times a day.   The antihistamine in Russia is produced in 10mg form.

So whereas the OTC MitoQ is 10% of the trial dosage, the standard antihistamine dose Dimebon is similar to the Alzheimer’s trial dose.  From the perspective of safety this is very relevant.

Many antihistamines have secondary effects. Dimebon has numerous:-

Coming back to Alzheimer’s it seems, as with cancer, that you can only really expect to halt the disease if you act (very) early or preventatively.  The trials usually take place in people whose brains are already severely compromised.

To some researchers, the Dimebon failure, and the failure of many other Alzheimer’s drug candidates to date, points to a larger problem:  The treatments are started too late in the course of the disease.
“What you want in such trials are people who are just starting to lose neurons, but typically by the time an Alzheimer’s patient goes to see a neurologist, his or her brain has already been severely damaged,” says Jeffery Kelly, an investigator at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, whose work has focused on amyloid-associated conditions. “Considering the way the Alzheimer’s trials are being done now, I’m not sure that even a great drug could be discerned as such.”


In response to the continuing negative outcomes of Alzheimer’s clinical trials, researchers have been designing some new trials in which patients are treated earlier in the disease course—when they may respond better—and for periods longer than 18 months, to allow more divergence between treatment and placebo groups. But this “incremental” change in trial designs, as Schneider puts it, still fails to take into account that different drugs have different possible mechanisms of action, different sources of outcome variability, and different possible windows of optimal effectiveness in the disease course. “In principle some drugs could show effects at six months and twelve months while other drugs might not show an effect for a much longer period,”

There are other diseases which feature mitochondrial dysfunction that might benefit more from Dimebon than AD/HD, autism is just one.


MitoE and MitoQ are very clever and there are many trials and experiments that have been done using them.  Only MitoQ is available to buy; a 5mg capsule is available OTC.

5mg of MitoQ should have the potency at the mitochondria  of something like 4,000 mg of coenzymeQ10.  The usual “high strength” coenzymeQ10 supplement are 100mg.  Dr Kelley, from Johns Hopkins, suggests 10 mg/kg/day of Coenzyme Q10 for regressive autism, as part of his mitochondria therapy.  So you would think MitoQ should be good for mitochondrial damage in some types of autism.

While MitoQ is quite expensive, melatonin is not.  I wonder why  Dr Kelley does not try/use melatonin.  You can reasonably expect 10 mg of melatonin to have a non-sleep effect.  The drawbacks are that it will send you to sleep and long term use may have an effect on natural melatonin production.

Taking melatonin as a pill should in theory then cause the pineal gland to produce less melatonin.  Over a long period of time this might reduce the body’s capacity to produce its own  melatonin, should you stop giving the pills.  Melatonin is very widely prescribed as drug to treat sleeping problems in ADHD and so you would think any side effects would have been noticed and published by now.  Many kids with autism already receive a lower dose of melatonin to help with sleep. 

Dimebon is in this post, but is not directly comparable to MitoE, MitoQ and Melatonin. 

I rather doubt the OTC MitoQ is potent enough to do much more good than large doses of CoenzymeQ10, which is cheap.

Dimebon is still being researched for Alzheimer’s (see below), even after Pfizer have given up on it.  Autism is not Alzheimer’s or Huntingdon’s, and there are clearly hundreds of variants of autism; but if there is mitochondrial dysfunction of some kind, I cannot see any harm trying these “hay fever pills” for a month.

In people diagnosed with regressive autism secondary to mitochondrial disease, perhaps just forget Claritin for the summer and buy Dimebon?