Father urges research: Can antibiotics improve autism symptoms?
John Rodakis, the parent of a child with autism was not looking to launch an international investigation into the microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that live on and in us) and autism, but, as he describes in his newly published article in the scientific journal Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, when his young son's autism unexpectedly and dramatically improved while taking an antibiotic for strep throat, he began a quest to understand why.
Following the surprise improvement, Mr. Rodakis, who in addition to being a parent is also a medical venture capitalist with a background in molecular biology and a Harvard MBA, began to examine the medical literature where he found a lone study from 1999 conducted at Chicago Rush Children's hospital that documented a similar phenomenon in autistic children. After speaking with other parents and clinicians he discovered that improvements on antibiotics such the one his son experienced were frequently observed, but not well studied. "I was determined to understand what was happening in the hope of helping both my son and millions of other children with autism."
The Father's quest led him to world-renowned autism researcher Dr. Richard Frye, head of the Autism Research Program at Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute and his team and together they began a collaboration that grew to include other researchers from many different medical disciplines from all parts of the world. As the parent/researcher collaboration intensified, two ideas emerged: that the group should design a research trial to try to understand this unusual phenomenon and to hold a scientific conference on autism and the microbiome. "Careful parental observations can be crucial. In science we take these observations, put them through the scientific method, and see what we find. This is what can lead to ground breaking scientific discoveries and breakthroughs in the field", said Dr. Frye.
This past June, the group held a first-of-its-kind conference: The First International Symposium on the Microbiome in Health and Disease with a Special Focus on Autism which was co-sponsored by Mr. Rodakis' newly formed non-profit N of One: Autism Research Foundation. As a result of that conference, a special issue on Autism and The Microbiome is being published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease. The issue features articles from conference presenters and others including an article by Mr. Rodakis, titled "An n=1 case report of a child with autism improving on antibiotics and a father's quest to understand what it may mean."
March 24, 2015, By Brooks Hays