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Greek scientist comes closer to autism cure

Scientific studies using a dietary supplement based on luteolin, a substance contained in chamomile, and kernel oil that helps reduce oxidation and inflammation of the brain.

The discovery was made by eminent Greek expatriate Dr. Theocharis Theocharides, Professor of Pharmacology, Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology and director of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery in the School of Medicine at Tufts University in Boston.

Autism, according to Theocharides, is not a psychiatric disease as originally thought and there is now a body of evidence that autistic children have an inflammation in the brain.

"It's a self-destruction that occurs in the brain during pregnancy or very early after the child is born and this is almost certainly because around 60 pct of children have antibodies against their own brain ... " Theocharides said in an interview to the ANA-MPA, while in Athens as a guest of the Hellenic American Union.

Theocharides said that certain herbal substances were found to have a possible anti-inflammatory activity that are found in abundance in Greece. In America, Theocharides has been credited with the idea of using such substances to combat inflammation in the brain. 

Past week the professor spoke at a special event on "Autism - Immediate need for information and treatment," organized by the Hellenic American Union in cooperation with ''Brain-Gate'' a non-profit company founded to promote the scientific study of diseases associated with the brain.

Autism is becoming something of an ''epidemic," as official statistics in the UK and the US indicate that one in fifty children suffers from autism. It cannot be treated with medication and it's not a psychiatric problem, said Theocharides.

It is an autoimmune disease that creates psychiatric problems. The results of research with luteolin and olive oil show an improvement of about 60 pct in the sociability of these children and improve their speech.

Theocharides said he had seen children that had been unable to communicate start to talk, adding that even one case is sufficient to give lots of hope "as we don't know yet the pathogenesis of the disease".

Unfortunately there are no objective criteria for an early diagnosis, there is no effective treatment , while the information is incomplete and often misleading, he said, resulting in a desperate effort from parents who understandably try to spend large sums of money to address this problem.

Deputy Development minister Athanasios Skordas addressed  past Thursday's event at the Hellenic American Union, referring to the specific skills and high IQ of autistic people, while adding that some societies find ways to use them beneficially, citing examples of companies that promote their employment.

He described these people as "a valuable economic unit" that is overlooked in Greece due to ignorance, resulting in their isolation, and urged a re-evaluation of attitudes towards them.

According to Theocharides, Brain-Gate's priority is to carry out scientific, educational, training and social work. The company will carry out an experimental, clinical and epidemiological study on the function and pathophysiology of the human brain.