Dubai hospital first to use new brain scan technique to detect autism
Screening recommended by doctors for three- to six-month-olds, writes Bernadette Costello
January 30, 2014 12:17 by kippreport
Al Zahra Private Hospital in Dubai will be the first hospital in the UAE to use a new brain scan technique that helps detect, measure and classify autism in children as young as three months old.
The move follows the publication of a new research paper that shows,for the first time, that Transcranial Ultrasonography (TUS) can help diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in babies.
Published in e-journalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience, the findings reveal the part of the brain that is affected by autism. When compared with neurotypical children, those with ASD were found to have increased extra-axial fluid and cortical abnormalities.
Developed by Professor Marco Ruggiero, scientific director of Immuno Biotech, TUS allows specialists to intervene at an early stage to avoid and/or revert the onset of autism. Trialling the technique on 38 children – a pilot study with 18 males and five females with ASDs aged between three and seven years old, and 15 neurotypical siblings aged between five and seven years old – Professor Ruggiero worked with top US autism expert, Dr Jeffrey Bradstreet.
Dr Bradstreet describes TUS as “a milestone in autism research” and adds: “TUS could be a useful screening technique for children at potential risk of ASDs, which – if confirmed with repeated studies and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – provides rapid, non-invasive qualification of extra-axial fluid and cortical lesions.”
Professor Ruggiero says that, crucially, TUS will allow doctors to monitor the efficacy of therapies in an objective and indisputable manner.
He adds: “For the very first time in history, clearly evident anatomical alterations in an autistic brain can be easily detected, measured and classified. The diagnosis and the follow-up of autism will no longer be based on subjective clinical observation, but on solid, indisputable data. At almost no cost, we shall have a way to prevent this condition that causes so much grieving.”
Dr Bariah Dardari, an autism specialist at Al Zahra Private Hospital who trained with Dr Bradstreet, confirms that she will be using the TUS technique at Al Zahra in the future. She describesit as “clinically applicable and safe”.
She continues: “As autism is becoming one of the most common conditions in childhood, finding an objective, clinically applicable and inexpensive method for diagnosis will help physicians in early detection and treatment of the condition, not only for the patient, but also for their siblings that might be at high risk. During my training session with Dr Bradstreet, it was clear that the technique is easy to teach and apply in any medical setting.Our plan is to use this technique at Al Zahra Private Hospital in the near future to offer more rounded care for patients with autism in the GCC region.”
Professor Ruggiero believes this new breakthrough could “revert the course of the autism epidemic” that is thought to affect one in 50 children worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Professor Ruggiero adds: “Since all children are now at risk, in our opinion, this exam should be performed on all newborns between the ages of three and six months, in order to prevent the onset of ASD. If this exam is performed correctly and in the proper scale, we may surely state that we shall be able to revert the course of this epidemic and prevent the burden of sufferance that we all know too well.”
Dr Dardari also told Gulf News Focus that approximately 60 parents contacted her after reading the newspaper’s article about the first child in the UAE to recover from autism,following his trial of the protein GcMAF. Several parents then attended the GcMAF Immunology Conference in Dubai last month to hear more about the treatment, which has helped improve the lives of 85 per cent of autistic adults and children. Out of 3,000 people who have tried GcMAF, 500 have “conquered autism” worldwide.
Professor Ruggiero believes “a world free from autism” could now be possible, with a combination of GOleic, a molecule derived from GcMAF by Immuno Biotech, and TUS.