Terra Sigillata

I read yesterday with joy the post by fellow ScienceBlogger, Alex Palazzo (The Daily Transcript), on his disbelief that autism advocates are selling oral supplements of yeast RNA. The pseudoscientific rationale is that RNA might chelate divalent cations (i.e., mercury) in a less toxic fashion (i.e., with lower and more selective affinity) than EDTA. (exposed originally, I believe, by Bartholomew Cubbins’ blog.). A little knowledge is indeed dangerous – the idea is put forth by a microbiology PhD who worked for an oligonucleotide synthesis company before getting a doctor of naturopathy degree from a nonaccredited correspondence college (CV PDF)

Alex doesn’t even get into the absurdity of the mercury-autism hypothesis – that is better left to the scientific community and other bloggers who have been fighting misinformation on this issue for years.

But, as Dr Palazzo points out, RNA is highly unstable and useless when taken as directed by the manufacturers. Alex makes a great point that most of the science put forth by the company would not stand up to any basic college chemistry/biochemistry class (even most highschoolers already learn of the instability of RNA):

If there is anyone out there using this product for your autistic child. Stop now and sue these suckers. They are cheating you blind! Their “science” wouldn’t stand up in any first year biochemistry class!

Welcome, Dr Palazzo, to the world of exploitation faced by fearful parents trying to do the best they can for their sick autistic kids.

Comments

  1. #1 Bartholomew Cubbins
    November 22, 2006

    Abel – thanks for getting the word out on is woo. I’d love to know how much she’s made off of this stuff.

  2. #2 Ruth
    November 26, 2006

    Just a small point-my daughter is autistic, not sick. Words do matter.

  3. #3 Abel Pharmboy
    November 27, 2006

    Ruth, my apologies for the perceived insensitivity. I was merely using the word “sick” in the Canadian vernacular such as is used for Toronto’s renowned ‘Hospital for Sick Kids.’

    I understand that even some parents of autistic children prefer use of the word “spectrum.” I appreciate the correction and have made the adjustment in the post accordingly.