Autism vaccine developed from bacteria found in sufferers' guts

30.04.2013 04:48

Researchers at the University of
Guelph have created the first
vaccine for a specific species of
bacteria that resides in the
gastrointestinal tract of a
majority of autistic children --
bacteria some scientists believe is
responsible for a number of
autism symptoms, and even the
severity of autism itself.
Master's student Brittany
Pequegnat and chemistry
professor Mario Monteiro, who
conducted the study --which was
also published in the journal
Vaccine-- created a
carbohydrate-based vaccine
against the Clostridium bolteae
It has already been observed that
over 90% of autistic children
suffer from major, recurring
gastrointestinal disorders. This is
because C. bolteae, which is the
culprit behind many such
disorders, is often present in the
gut of autistic children, compared
to healthier children.
"Little is known about the factors
that predispose autistic children
to C. bolteae," admitted Monteiro,
who believes a vaccine would be
beneficial to current antibiotic
treatments of these infections.
"This is the first vaccine designed
to control constipation and
diarrhea caused by C. bolteae and
perhaps control autism-related
symptoms associated with this
microbe," he added.
Cases of autism have risen in
number over the last two
decades, to the perplexity of
scientists. Some experts, who
believe the toxins produced by C.
bolteae are linked to autism
symptoms, have been studying
the bacteria closely. Pequegnat
and Monteiro, in particular,
studied bacteria grown by PhD
student Mike Toh in the
laboratory of Emma Allen-Vercoe,
professor of microbiology at
The vaccine, which consists of C.
bolteae antibodies raised in
rabbits, targets the carbohydrates - particularly the complex
polysaccharides - on the surface
of the bacteria. In addition, these
antibodies can be used to identify
the bacteria in the clinical
Despite the fact that the vaccine
might take over 10 years of
human trials before being
deemed safe for the public
consumption, Moteiro believes it
"is a significant first step in the
design of a multivalent vaccine
against several autism-related gut