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Lupron, soon to be a patented autism treatment?

Posted May 31 2012 11:00am

Lurpon and similar drugs are used to reduce the production of sex hormones in the human body. These drugs are used to treat prostate cancer, uterine fibroids and precocious puberty. In the autism community, Lupron came to prominence as an alternative medical treatment for autism. The theory, put forth by father and son team Mark and David Geier, was that mercury in the brain was bound to testosterone, making it impossible to remove by chelation. By reducing the amount of mercury

The Geiers filed a patent for their idea . Here is the abstract for that patent application:

The present invention relates to methods of treating a subject diagnosed with autism or an autism spectrum disorder, lowering the level of mercury in a subject determined to contain a high level of mercury, methods of lowering the level of mercury in a child diagnosed with autism, lowering the level of at least one androgen in a subject diagnosed with autism, lowering the level of mercury and the level of at least one androgen in a subject diagnosed with autism and methods of assessing the risk of whether a child is susceptible of developing autism.

And their first claim (claims are the heart of a patent and claim one is the most important):

1. A method of lowering the level of mercury in a subject suffering from mercury toxicity, the method comprising the steps of:

a) administering to said subject a pharmaceutically effective amount of at least one luteinizing hormone releasing hormone composition; and
b) repeating step a) as necessary to lower the level of mercury in said subject.

Yes, it was all about mercury.

Well there’s good news and bad news on this front. Good news is that the patent office saw through the mercury angle. Bad news is that the patent application is still alive.

The original patent application had 109 claims . The first claim for the original application is above.

Here’s the new claim 1 (in case you want to skip the long paragraph of legalese, note that mercury is not mentioned):

1. A method of treating a subject suffering from autism, the method comprising the step of: a) administering to the subject a pharmaceutically effective amount of at least one luteinizing hormone releasing hormone composition to treat the autism, wherein the at least one luteinizing hormone releasing hormone composition is administered in a sufficient amount and over a sufficient period of time to control clinical symptoms of autism to a desired level, and wherein when the subject is younger than 18 years and said luteinizing hormone releasing hormone composition comprises leuprolide acetate, and the subject is administered a dosage of the composition of at least about 20 ug/kg per day for at least 28 days or said leuprolide acetate dosage is administered via a slow release formulation that releases said leuprolide acetate daily dosage over a 28 day period, and wherein when the subject is 18 years old or older than 18 years said luteinizing hormone releasing hormone composition comprises leuprolide acetate, and the subject is administered a dosage of leuprolide acetate of at least about 0.3 mg per day for at least 28 days or said leuprolide acetate dosage is administered via a slow release formulation that releases said leuprolide acetate daily dosage over a 28 day period.

Yes, claim 1 is very different. In fact, the patent application now has only 30 claims . None of which mention mercury. It’s a good guess that the patent examiner rejected a lot of claims.

The rest of the patent still has a great deal of mercury discussion. Patent examiners don’t usually require changes to the body of the patent, just the claims. The body included this statement:

It is known in the art that mercuric chloride binds and forms a complex with testosterone in vitro and possibly in subjects (See, Cooper et al., “The Crystal Structure and Absolute Configuration of the 2:1 Complex between Tesosterone and Mercuric Chloride,” Acta Crystallogr B., 1968, 15:24(7):935-41).

This was their “sheets of mercury and testisterone” theory. They showed that in the literature there is evidence of mercury binding to testosterone. Trouble for their theory is that the paper cited involves mixing mercury with testosterone in a beaker of hot benzene. The idea that this same process happens in the human brain was an amazing stretch of logic.

One of the many incredible leaps if logic in their story.

I don’t think either the Geiers or the patent examiner have spent much time at all on the body of the patent. Here’s a typo that’s propagated through multiple iterations of the patent over many years:

Today, humans are exposed to mercury from a variety of different sources, including dental amalgams, certain industries such as battery, thermometer and barometer manufacturing, ingestion of certain foods such as fish and shellfish, environmental pollution resulting from the use of fossil foods, prescription medicines, and from vaccinations and other biologicals, such as Rho immune globulin, containing thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative.

Emphasis mine

Somewhere over the years they might have picked up on “fossil foods”, one would think.

The bottom line is that the Geier lupron protocol patent application is still alive, albeit in a much reduced form. If I recall correctly the manufacturer of lupron had a stake in the patent as originally submitted but they have transferred their stake to the Geiers. Apparently the company decided to get out of the lupron-for-disabled-children business.

The Geiers are left with the patent and whatever future royalties it would bring. Which I doubt will be much. It would be interesting to see how many of there talks fail to mention their financial stake, though. Are they informing parents and the doctors they are pitching this idea that they stand to make money off this?

Also of interest are the case histories included in the patent. At least one child had no indications that lupron was required. This is exactly the sort of practice that resulted in Mark Geier’s license suspended.

Lupron and similar drugs are powerful medicine. They have legitimate uses. When dealing with children it only seems prudent to work with a pediatric endocrinologist. One has to ask why the Geiers don’t refer children to the appropriate specialist. The sad answer is that pediatric endocrinologists probably would reject the diagnoses given by the Geiers.

  1. Science Mom:
    They seem to have covered their bases no matter how old the autist is. How in Hades can these quacks, with charges of practising without a license and multiple charges of medical malpractice between them based upon their completely baseless claims about Lupron still be allowed a patent?
  2. brian:
    I particularly enjoy that "precocious puberty" can be treated in male of female children "under 18 years of age." Entering puberty before the age of 18 years is obviously abnormal. Of course, this treatment can also be used to control masturbation (claim 16) in males younger than 18 years, to make them more like their typically-developing peers. Oh, wait.
  3. Sullivan:
    brian, since they don't have a similar claim for females, must one assume that females under 18 do not show this particular symptom of autism?
  4. April:
    Please help by passing this petition around. http://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-city-of-chicago-reunite-taylor-and-her-angel?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=autopublish
  5. Autism Blog – Lupron, soon to be a patented autism treatment? « Left … | My Autism Site | All About Autism:
    [...] Continue reading here: Autism Blog – Lupron, soon to be a patented autism treatment? « Left … [...]

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