Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bartholomew Cubbins on Autism Episode 6: The Challenges of a Chelator Part II.5 (mov)

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Just some more disjointed thoughts on the chemistry of chelating for mecury in an autistic person.

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At 2/17/2006 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi BC--
Excellent blog and great video.

One question. Substitute Pb for Hg in these discussions. Since Pb is, as far as I know a legit use of chelators, how does chelation work/differ for Pb toxicity? This is an honest biochem question---no political agenda a-tall.

Thanks. (I'm registering as anonymous for now because this is SUCH a hot-button for so many--and I take enough heat from the alties that I KNOW at this time).

At 2/18/2006 1:29 PM, Blogger Bartholomew Cubbins said...

Hi anon, thanks for the kind words.

Chelation is an appropriate and efficacious treatment for actute mercury or lead poisoning. If there is either Hg or Pb available (free) at high enough concentration, the chelator will bind it and assist the excretion process. So the short answer to your question is: no difference.

I use EDTA as an example since it's well known and I use it every day in the lab, but the same arguments can be used for the other known chlelators.

Side note: some things are called chelators but really aren't. If I added a bunch of ATP to a solution with some Hg or Pb dissolved as a salt, the metals would coordinate the phosphate oxygens but that doesn't mean that ATP is chelating the metal.

My beef is simply with the notion that autistics are mercury poisoned, and that the mercury is at such low levels that standard medical labs cannot detect the contaminating metal as being anything above background. Yet we are supposed to believe that rubbing a transdermal solution of chelator X will somehow dig down deep into these contaminted pockets and pull the metals out. I'm sorry, I just don't believe it.


PS - anonymity if fine with me. Jog over to Orac's new blog if you haven't already and you can see a couple people (trolls) that you just don't want knowing where you live. Sad stuff, really.

At 2/21/2006 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is tough to believe. At least one study shows that DMSA and DMPS don't bind mercury very well and it probably doesn't leave the body complexed with these so called "chelators."

Technetium forms a good chelate with DMSA which is why one Tc isotope is used for scintigraphy studies but the chemistry of Tc is very different from Hg. If a person suffered from high levels of Tc, DMSA would probably do little to remove it.

Let's suppose you had a soil sample containing high levels of mercury. Could it be extracted (or decontaminated) by percolating a DMSA, DMPS, ALA, or EDTA solution through the sample? I doubt it.

I'm assuming the human body is a little more complicated than a pile of dirt, but maybe not to some parents.

At 2/21/2006 1:12 PM, Blogger Bartholomew Cubbins said...

I agree with you and I am not an advocate for chelation for autism. You are right about those chelators - competent people have shown them to be less than efficacious (I'm struggling with the citation, a chemistry group in canada). The argument of what consitutes a true chelator is out of my expertise. When I stated chelate in this video and this thread, I simply (and sloppily) mean to bind. Any chemist desiring to beat my knuckles with a slide rule please do so now, let's get it over with.

Your point about soil is a good one. And with the body we're talking about a massively compartmentalized, heterogenous, and dynamic system. It boggles the mind that someone can treat it like a test tube.

"I'm assuming the human body is a little more complicated than a pile of dirt, but maybe not to some parents."

So true that it makes me want to cry sometimes.

At 2/22/2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other anonymous said,
"Let's suppose you had a soil sample containing high levels of mercury. Could it be extracted (or decontaminated) by percolating a DMSA, DMPS, ALA, or EDTA solution through the sample? I doubt it."

Well, yes it could, but not very efficiently and there are so many dependent variables of soil characteristics (% clay vs %sand vs %organic components) other ions are in solution, the pH, whether the sample requires fractionation, contact time, comparison of flow rates in a biological system vs. gravitational percolation, etc.,etc.

And that would only be relevant to soil, which is much more easily characterized system.

There could be some interesting research in this whole question except that so many players are already convinced of or have a vested interest in "the cause" and are on fishing expedititions to prove their point, or simply proceeding clinically as if the point was already proven...or not.
But it's not really about science anyway.

At 2/22/2006 8:22 PM, Blogger Bartholomew Cubbins said...

"But it's not really about science anyway."

and that really sucks because if someone really wanted to do the experiments they'd have to bend over backward to look independent. The mercury-autism proponents have tainted the waters.

At 2/24/2006 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually BC, it's even worse than that--a well-done experiment that didn't come out with the "right" result would run a risk of being tarred with some ad hominem label or not believed at all.

I can think of any number of things out there that have been shown time, and time again to not work the way they were speculated to, or simply not to all. But there are people still out there using them as treatments because there are people willing to pay.

An unbiased researcher would have to do it for the sake of the intellectual and scientific curiosity of the question itself---and politics be damned...if that is possible in this particular arena after all the hoopla.

I agree that it makes everything look suspect.

At 2/24/2006 9:48 PM, Blogger Bartholomew Cubbins said...

you're right and my head's starting to hurt thinking about the idiocy of it all.

At 2/26/2006 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found my way here as I was looking into the "buzz" about Lupron from the Geiers study. I have a son with autism. We waited for five years before we took the leap into chelation and we have agonized that we missed "that window of opportunity" that Andy Cutler mentions. I have read several blogs, some of and for autistic adults who apparently think that I must be an abusive monster or a victim of Manchausin's syndrome. I wanted to post to you for two reasons, one to note that although there may be no scientific data to show definitively that chelation is effective and realizing that , to you, my experience is merely anecdotal. I must tell you that we have been very cautious and we have found that our son has improved dramatically since chelating. Teachers at school, who are not aware of what we are doing, have remarked on the changes. We don't expect a cure or a miracle. We know he will never be cured, but he is better. I'm not sure anyone realizes what it is like to want your child to get better. Not because I care if he is "normal", but because I will be dead one day. If I can make sure that he will be able to wash himself and not rely on someone who gets paid $4.00 an hour who doesn't give a damn about whether he lives or dies(let alone be happy) I will die a happy woman.
My second reason for posting is to ask, with all of the criticizm about how Buttar, Wakefield, The Geiers, etc. Where is the "legitimate" governmental agencies in the arena of studying the causes and treatments of autism. Dan Olmstead has been reporting for several months now on the subject of autism/mercury in vaccines. He posed the question, where are the autistic amish? Why are there no studies using these populations? Wouldn't they be the perfect control group?

At 2/28/2006 5:58 PM, Blogger Bartholomew Cubbins said...

Anon - some people will accuse you of being abusive for practising chelation. I steer clear of calling a parent a child abuser and I certainly wouldn't say that about someone with such little information.

I get pretty upset hearing stories of hog-tying a child down to have some chiropracter inject a chelator. Personally, I think that chelation will do nothing except feed your hope, and if that's good then so be it. Hope means a lot.

What I have a serious problem with is opportunistic individuals feeding then sucking hope from people who've been through a lot already. Some of these "health care providers" are truly experimenting on children. It is wrong. It is dangerous (Lupron and stem cells come to mind), and it is unnecessary.

Re: gov't
Any US citizen who pays taxes owns the NIH. Writing letters and calling people is a good start. Educating oneself is another way. By this I'm not implying that you or anyone else in particular are uneducated, however, I made a career change late in life (relative to peers) due to my sudden and accidental interest neurological workings and disorders - other people can do it too.

Re: Amish - no, they're not a perfect control group by any means. This has been beat to death elsewhere (autism diva and prometheus come to mind).

I wish you and your family the best.

PS - anyone who tells you that you missed a window of opportunity is an a$$hole. Don't listen to them. However, I say that not because there's a chance that the short window is still open so you should go, go, go, but because I believe that the window is always open, however it may lead to places that aren't necessarily obvious at the moment.

At 3/01/2006 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B Cubbins,
Thank you for your remarks. Where chemistry is concerned, I am uneducated. I want to understand. At this point, having felt betrayed by doctors, teachers, therapist, family, the government, etc. I just want to help my son have a chance at life. I don't expect you to tutor me on chemistry, my brain won't grasp any of it anyhow. You seem to be knowledgable on the subject and you don't seem to have any agenda. I am educated about my son. Why is he improving with chelation? Is it the placebo effect by proxy? Others see it too. I don't like to think of myself as a pitiful parent who jumps on every autism treatment bandwagon that comes rolling past. Should I stop the chelation to see if things change again? I don't want you to think that I'm being sarcastic, I am truly sincere. These are not loaded questions. I feel like I've just had the rug pulled out from under me. He has made such great progress. Maybe if I stop chelating to see if I'm attributing the progress to chelation when it isn't at all the case. Just for the record, there is no hog tying or chiropractor involved. Since starting chelation, our son will swallow pills (something he would never do before) and we give him DMSA and ALA following Andy Cutler's protocol. In fact, our son this past week had a cold and asked for "vitamins" Which tells me that he has made the connection with taking pills and feeling better. Prior to chelation, whenever we would try to tell him that taking meds made him feel better, he refused. I don't know, I feel like I can't trust my own intuition and maybe I AM one of those pitiful parents! ARRRGGG.
I suppose the best way is to quit the chelation, wait to see if progress stops or any regression. If no change, then I have my answer. The good news, whatever the cause, he is improving!

Re; writing to the NIH....lolol
at this point, I'm sure I'm on some governmental list of possible terror suspects. I have written many letters concerning mental health parity, the Eli Lilly Rider in the HSB and countless others. I either get no reply or a form letter thanking me for my concern.

Re: the Amish/ sorry for revisiting an old topic, I don't read alot of blogs, I stumbled on this one and found it interesting.

At 3/01/2006 9:41 PM, Blogger Bartholomew Cubbins said...

"The good news, whatever the cause, he is improving!"

At the end of the day a happy, healthy, accepted child and happy, accepting parents are the only thing that matters.

All the best to you and your family.

At 6/04/2006 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in Brazil, and I have a son who has been diagnosed PDD.
Even though his symptoms are mild, he is 4 and social interactiveness is low.
I tell you, after countless hours of studying and talking to doctors, that initial and real hell is to hear that "this is not a proven medical procedure ...".
Someone should map one trail for ASD parents to follow, in order to understand their childs problems and do their best to treat them.
Take it from myself: I am a highly educated man, successful entrepreneur, unable to determine if I should or not chelate my chold. It is a shame.
For the record: the child is undergoing treatment with several different medical professionals, but me and my wife had to decide which professionals should be included in the team.
This is not fair.
I have been writing a follow-up since my boy was 2, and hope to disseminate our experience to other parents in due time.
PLEASE, try to assemble a group to draw a map for parents to follow.
Could be inaccurate, but it MUCH better than none.

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