Metal-binding agents don't help autism

Nov. 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM

PHOENIX, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Metal-binding agent 2,3-Dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonate, prescribed by some alternative practitioners to treat autism, does not work, U.S. researchers say.

Jennifer Cohen and Michelle Ruha of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix said metal-binding agents such as DMPS have received significant attention amid the controversy over the alleged link between mercury and autism.

Even though no causal relationship between mercury in vaccines and autism has been proven, some practitioners treat their patients with mercury-binding agents in an effort to help the body eliminate mercury and treat autism.

One of these agents is a formulation of DMPS applied to the skin, which is approved in Europe for the treatment of heavy metal toxicity, but is not approved by the United States, but it can be purchased on the Internet.

Cohen and the research team looked at whether topically applied DMPS is absorbed into the body by measuring levels in the blood 30, 60, 90, 120, and 240 minutes after application. They also measured whether DMPS applied to the skin resulted in an increased excretion of mercury in the urine 12 and 24 hours after application.

The study comprised eight healthy adult volunteers and one control subject, Cohen said.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, found none of the urine samples collected from the healthy subjects contained detectable DMPS and DMPS was not detected in 40 of 41 blood samples, with the single sample containing DMPS considered by the authors to be contamination of the sample.

"Our results show that the drug is not absorbed and does not work as a metal-binding agent, when applied to the skin," Ruha concluded.

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