Saturday, February 11, 2017

New MIT lab wants to cure autism

In the occasionally some news is good news department, Gadfly is happy to report that there's a new kid on the block, a new lab at MIT started with a private donation, that has expressed a desire to find a cure and prevention for autism.  Hock Tan and Lisa Yang, parents of two autistic children and MIT alumni, have donated 20 million dollars for this laboratory.  In another article they state they want to erase the devastating effects of autism and want a world free of the burdens of autism.  I had wondered if it were possible to use CRISPR genetic editing techniques to prevent or at least do something to help  autism.  Interestingly enough, CRISPR is something that they are interested in using.

Interestingly, Bob DeSimone who runs MIT's brain research lab stated that NIH would not have supported their research in a million years and that the techniques they plan to use are too far out.

Now that Autism Speaks has announced they no longer seek to cure and prevent autism and very mildly autistic board member Stephen Shore has chortled over this with glee on facebook, I'm glad someone else is willing to pick up the mantle and actually try to do something.

However, from the neurodiversity movement's point of view, dem's fighting words.  Cure, prevention, burden are sure to provoke the ire and rancor of these angry and vicious hatemongers.

Tan and Yang's wealth will obliterate the need for the advertising that autism speaks engaged in during their pre sell-out days that angered so many people and led to the cry of "eugenics".  Other than AS, the government, and the Simons Foundation, I've never heard of anyone giving this kind of money for autism research.

There has already been some ND activity over this.  Michelle Dawson has tweeted about this.  More pronounced were the words of Michael J. Carley who stated in the comments section of the first article I linked to:  Cure"? Are you serious? It's 2017! Shame on MIT, an otherwise smart and ethical institution.  The irascible Forbes contributor Emily Willingham has tweeted that numerous autistics have graduated from MIT and asks "you want to prevent them"  An individual on twitter named Michael H who states he's a behavioral neuroscientist and a special educator has called the lab "ableist"  So one is a bigot if they want to cure autism (I may be updating this blog post if I see more angry responses from ND's)

Interesting that the "shame on MIT" comment comes from someone who can get an advanced degree from Columbia, make a decent living, get married twice and have two children he can support (something which most autistics, myself included, will never be able to accomplish).  Not to mention the fact he was diagnosed with Asperger's who did not want to call himself autistic because he didn't want to be lumped in with people who bang their heads and wear adult diapers.  Also, an individual who used someone's death from terminal cancer to aggrandize himself. 

I don't know if this lab's work will ever benefit anyone with autism, particularly in my lifetime, but I wanted to write this post, because I'm so glad that someone has the audacity to express how horrible autism is and uses that nasty four letter word that Carley and others are so offended by.  I can only hope they won't sell out to neurodiversity the way the government and autism speaks have.


Jake Crosby said...

Slush fund research.

Anonymous said...

I visit your blog occasionally and enjoy it. Thanks. I'll look into the new MIT project. I've been reading up on the multisensory temporal binding window work and think it has lots of potential for working with and understanding autism and you may want to post your own views at some point :)


jonathan said...

@Denise, I know nothing about the multisensory temporal binding work, so can't really post my views on it. Thanks for the kind words about my blog

marytormey said...

The problem is money follows money and the money has been going into proving untrue things for military purposes for a very long time.
Actinide Series, a Warning?
Thorium, Thunder, God
Protactinium, Protect, The First
Uranium, Your Anus, Sky, heaven
Neptunium, Sea, God
Plutonium, Hades, Hell, God
Americium, America
Curium, Cure
Berkelium, Berkeley
Californium, California
Einsteinium, Einstein, Nuclear Bomb, Relativity
Fermium, Terraferma, Earth Solid, Solid Ground
Mendelevium, Mendel, Mangle, Mengele (peas are a heck of a drug)
Nobelium, Nobel, Nobel Peace Prize
Lawrencium, Law, Lawrence of Arabia (died in 1935)

The big question is was Josef Mangele in Berkeley California in 1945?
Was he the one who recommended the use of Fluoridated water in Contra-Costa county in 1945

The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia

Gwen Kansen said...

I'm hopeful about CRISPR research in general. I think autism's going to be tougher because we haven't even managed to sequence it yet. I'm assuming this won't happen in time to help me either. But experimental research leads to great things. Check out The Berlin Patient.

jonathan said...

@Gwen I doubt CRISPR will be able to do anything about most forms of autism, because the genetics of it are complicated and probably not entirely genetic and there is probably a significant environmental interplay interacting with the genetics. It could be helpful for a minority of cases that are the result of Mendelian inheritance such as tuberous sclerosis which involves one autosomal dominant gene and some forms of autism that involve an autosomal recessive gene where you acquire one copy from each parent. Even among those, it might not help those already born but rather when they're fetuses, the neurodiversigy eugenics argument aside.

I think this lab will do more than just CRISPR as they are also interested in neuroscience stuff. They may not have anything that will help people anytime in the forseeable future, but i'm hopeful more research can be done like this that will help people sometime.

AutisticSince1957 said...

It is The Boston Herald that used the word "cure". The researchers did not.

AutisticSince1957 said...

I found a link where the doners hope the money will be used for a cure

jonathan said...

EK Aspie you may be correct about that. I'm not sure how the donors or the researchers feel about curing autism, but I think it's safe to assume, it's likely they believe in the cure prevention philosophy and that is why they gave 20 million dollars for the startup costs for the lab. I suspect at least a few of the researchers may have a stake in autism and want cure and prevention also.

Anonymous said...

Crispr Cas 9 has the potential to modify gene expression not just genes, so they can also deal with enviromental causes of autism. A normal identical twin of an autistic person has the same genes but different gene expression. Also some genes control others, if they replace one gene with a different variant that does not respond to the same enviromental factors (like they are doing now with lung cancer from cigarette smoking) it can also help.

Seeing Clearly said...

If you want to learn more about autism from a victim who has the "diagnosis" check out my website ( and see for yourself how autism has devastated my life and many others and why autism is such a horrible thing and why it might be good to have autism which I haven't found any reason for the positives of autism because there seems to be none autism is a burden /stigma / disease and nothing that is good I am criticized for wanting a cure I saw you on autism live YouTube channel I am concerned that that channel acutely supports Neurodiversity and autism pride however I am glad you made your voice herd please check out the Geoengineeringwatch section of my website as well as it links to a website that is involved somewhat in the issues of vaccines and autism and if you scroll down at the comments you will find me talking about autism as well I plan to keep posting on your blog in the future I am very glad I found you and let's see the end of autism or at least we should have a right to a cure for our autism since there is no better right you can have as a disabled person that the right to a cure for your disability cheers .

Anonymous said...

I know this article is old, but I believe it is relevant. It talks about keeping infants from becoming autistic later in life, but I have a feeling that the ND crowd will call it a "genocide".

kate said...

As a sign of gratitude for how my son was saved from autism, i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
My son suffered autism in the year 2013 and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because he was my all and the symptoms were terrible, he always have difficulty with communication, , and he always complain of poor eye contact . we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure him. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony by someone who was cured and so many other with similar body problem, and he left the contact of the doctor who had the cure to autism . I never imagined autism has a natural cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my son will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my son used it and in one months time he was fully okay even up till this moment he is so full of life.autism has a cure and it is a herbal cure contact the doctor for more info on on how to get the medication. Thanks for reading my story

Sophie Lewis said...

I am Sophie from Canada, I once suffered from a terrible and Chronic autism ,since i was bone , the doctor told me there was no permanent cure i was given medications to slow down its progress, i constantly felt my health was deteriorating as i constantly go out of breath,and this illness was really terrible especially when am going out with my friends, i have this constant disorder for about 31 years which result to epilepsy, this was really a terrible ailment ,on thin one day that i was going through the internet,and i came across a post of Mrs Kate on how his son was been cured from autism through the help of Dr Williams herbal product, I contacted this herbal doctor via his email and explain everything to him and make purchase of his product,few days later he sent me the herbal medicine through courier service, when i received the herbal medicine, i used it for 1 months and two weeks as prescribed by dr williams and i was totally cured of autism within those week of usage,on thin now i have not experience any sign or characteristics again . for more information you can visit his blog for help