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A compound possibly designed to clear metals out of water and sludge is being touted as a therapeutic nutritional supplement for autism, according to the Chicago Tribune. The supplement is available for purchase online, and some parents are giving it to their children with autism. Unfortunately there is no published evidence of its safety or effectiveness.
CTI Science manufactures OSR#1®, also known as N,N-bis(2-mercaptoethanol)isophthamide.
Boyd Haley, president of CTI Science, told the Tribune and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) that the compound had been tested for safety. He posts that claim on their Web site. When asked by the Tribune for results of the safety tests, Haley stopped communicating with them. There are no published reports of safety testing in humans or animals listed in PubMed, the primary medical publication database.
Furthermore, the alleged nutritional supplement is presented on the CTI Science Web site as an antioxidant. However, the patent filing reported an ability of related and perhaps identical compounds to chelate (bind up) metals, including mercury, in water and sludge. On its Web site, CTI Science denies that OSR#1® is a chelating agent. However, no evidence for that claim is available.
Chelating agents are being used by some as an alternative autism therapy, based on the idea that mercury exposure contributes to autism symptoms. Chelators binds metals in the body, and clear them out. However, there are health risks associated with their use. Our bodies require some metals for normal processes, and taking away too much of the metals can lead to serious health problems.
Nutritional supplements do not undergo as much scrutiny as drugs to get FDA approval for human use. However, federal law states that manufacturers need to show that the nutritional supplements are expected to be safe. The FDA told the Tribune that they notified Haley of the lack of evidence to meet those requirements, though the FDA has not yet taken any further action on this issue.
Lara Pullen, Ph.D., is Co-founder and C.E.O. of an Oak Park-based company, Healing Thresholds, that created an autism therapy information Web site. She says, “There are many complementary and alternative therapies have been shown to benefit children with autism. Many of these, such as essential fatty acids, gluten-free diets, and vitamin B6 and magnesium supplementation are unlikely to harm a child with autism. We suggest that parents who are seeking alternative therapies focus on those that are least likely to cause harm to the child.”
The Healing Thresholds Web site offers parents and caregivers summaries of scientific research information about autism therapies.
If you want more details about autism therapy controversies, go to the Chicago Tribune autism therapy page. The site lists previous Tribune articles that have shed light on dubious alternative therapy treatments for autism.
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