I feel like every week I have a new paper to call my favorite paper and this week was no different as I read the Buffington et al. paper. I was immediately drawn in by their relation of maternal factors to Autism Spectrum Disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders as I had never heard of this link even though I have done a good amount of literature research about autism in the past. The gut brain axis was also interesting as I remember discussing it in a few classes but it was always discussed as this new hypothetical thing that no one really studied. Clearly, that’s not the case. However, as is the case with most of the papers I read, I had a hard time picturing how this would translate to humans. Autism is a spectrum and most neurodevelopmental disorders vary in severity but, based on the models used in this study, it seems they are working on the milder symptoms.
Assuming this idea could translate to humans, you would be alleviating issues such as social interaction deficiencies but what about things like lack of speech and more severe manifestations of disorders like Autism. I like the idea of basically reverse manipulating the gut biome to fix cognitive issues but I don’t think the timing would work humans. Even with mice, there was a short window, under which the deficient social behavior could be resolved (4 weeks vs 8 weeks). My understanding is that, in humans most of these issues develop before birth and you usually can’t tell if someone is cognitively deficient until they don’t meet certain checkpoints months or years into life so I would assume the window would be missed. Basically, as much as I like the idea of this paper, I also don’t see the feasibility of what they are trying to do, but I hope this idea gets developed further.