Webinar: Groundbreaking research on treatment for autism, June 6 and 9

ASU faculty members Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and James Adams.

Professors Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and James Adams will present their findings on treating Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD symptoms through microbiota transplant therapy, or MTT, in two upcoming webinars with their collaborator, autism researcher Richard Frye. Learn about the results of their latest study on MTT for adults with autism. Each 40-minute presentation will cover the same content to be followed by a 20-minute Q&A.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023
6–7 p.m.
Register to attend on Zoom

Friday, June 9, 2023
11 a.m.–noon
Register to attend on Zoom

The webinars will be recorded and posted at autism.asu.edu.

About the research

About 40% of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, have chronic gut problems that can last many years. It is this correlation that sparked the collaboration between Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, a professor of civil engineering at ASU, and James Adams, a professor of materials science and engineering at ASU. As the founder and director of the Biodesign Center for Health through Microbiomes and a faculty member in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Krajmalnik-Brown saw the potential to treat symptoms of autism-like social communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors by improving the microbiome of the gut. Adams, a professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy and the parent of a child with ASD, had extensive knowledge of the disorder and had published research demonstrating a strong correlation between autism severity and gut symptoms.

Together, they have made breakthroughs in the treatment of ASD symptoms through microbiota transplant therapy, or MTT, a special type of fecal transplant. The results of their first study, “Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transplant Therapy in Autism Symptoms and Gut Microbiota,” published in Scientific Reports with lead author Dae-Wook Kang of the University of Toledo, demonstrated long-term benefits for children diagnosed with ASD. 

Two years post-treatment, most of the initial improvements in gut symptoms remained and parents reported a slow, steady reduction of ASD symptoms during treatment and throughout the two years following. 

About the webinars

The webinar will focus on the outcomes of a Phase 2 clinical trial, which employed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design in its first part. In the second part of the trial, the placebo group received a similar treatment, while the original treatment group received an additional eight weeks of microbiota transplant. The researchers discovered that MTT was generally safe and well-tolerated, with the microbiota capsules proving to be better tolerated than the placebo capsules.

Key findings from the study include significant improvements in autism symptoms as well as reduction of constipation, diarrhea and pain for the treatment group compared to the placebo group, indicating a medium effect size. Moreover, the microbiome of the treatment group showed a closer resemblance to that of the donor, with an increase in beneficial bacteria. These encouraging results suggest that MTT holds promise as a safe and effective treatment option for adults with autism and associated GI symptoms. The research also provides valuable insights into optimizing dosing for improved clinical benefits.

In addition to the presentation on autism, the webinar series will briefly touch upon the positive outcomes of the Phase 2 trial of MTT for children with Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, a severe genetic disorder, characterized by intellectual disability, autism and constipation. All six children involved in the study demonstrated substantial improvement. These results have been submitted to the FDA for review, underscoring the potential of MTT to address a range of conditions.

Finally, the researchers will introduce Gut-Brain Axis Therapeutics Inc., a new company they established to spearhead the final studies required for the approval of MTT for children and adults with autism or Pitt Hopkins Syndrome. This innovative venture aims to further explore the therapeutic potential of the gut-brain axis and contribute to the development of cutting-edge treatments.