This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Infections Alter Our Genetic Expression

Research published in the Dec 15th issue of the journal Immunity has found that infections alter the expression of host genes.  The changes that result from infection are different for viruses and bacteria and may be used in the future as a way to distinguish viral infections from bacterial ones.  Additionally, they found that the expression of a group of 11 genes were altered by the influenza virus and this could serve as a useful way to distinguish influenza from other viral infections.  They found that the influenza vaccine led to the same changes in gene behavior.  There is hope that this could be a way reduce the overuse of antibiotics by identifying more accurately which infections are viral and therefore not appropriate for antibiotic treatment.  

From this article in Science News about this research and what it means:

"To find the viral fingerprints, computational immunologist Purvesh Khatri of Stanford University and colleagues combed through a wide variety of publicly available datasets that included information about how human genes behaved after an infection of influenza, human rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The researchers churned these diverse datasets through a series of sophisticated mathematical analyses, a process that ultimately pinpointed a consistent viral calling card — a list of nearly 400 genes, each of which grew either more or less active during a viral attack. Many of those genes make proteins known to be involved in virus responses and inflammation."

This is the abstract for the journal article itself:

 While this research looked at the effects on human genes for three viruses, it seems likely that at least some other viruses have this effect as well.  This is particularly interesting since ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia often begin with a viral infection that seems to act as a trigger, maybe this is how?  Maybe some people have some problem with the mechanism that corrects these changes after infection, if that happens, or maybe the way the gene expression is altered is not the same in some people, or maybe there are mutations in these genes that do not become apparent until their expression is changed in this way?  I also can't help but wonder if the flu vaccine alters DNA expression, maybe other vaccines do as well, and again maybe this plays a role in the onset of some adverse reactions and disorders that can follow vaccination?