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Baylor College of Medicine News

Baylor College of Medicine study to assess role of carnitine in autism

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine are seeking boys aged 9 months to 30 months who might be showing signs of autism or boys of the same age who have an older brother with the disorder to take part in a study to determine if a supplement called carnitine can prevent a form of autism.

The study led Dr. Arthur Beaudet, chair of molecular and human genetics at BCM, seeks to determine if autism can result when neurons or nerve cell lack adequate supplies of carnitine, which plays a critical role in energy production. Carnitine can be made in the body but most comes from the diet, especially red meats.

Beaudet and his colleagues hypothesize that boys who lack a gene called TMLHE, which is critical to making carnitine in the body, might be at higher risk of autism.

The research involves drawing blood from the young subjects - both those showing signs of autism and those who have brothers with the disorder - that will then be tested for the presence of the gene and levels of carnitine in the blood.

Further information on the study can be found on the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics site.

If you wish to take part in this research, please send an e-mail to carnitine.autism@bcm.edu and provide a telephone number and a time at which it would be convenient to talk with a research coordinator about the possibility of your child taking part in the research. Alternatively you can leave a phone message for Dianne Dang at 713-798-4795.