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NSU Research Spotlight: Autism Spectrum Disorder


Ana Maria Castejon, Ph.D

NSU and the dietary supplement company Immunotec are conducting a research study to determine the effects of a supplement to improve behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder. The study will investigate the effects of a cysteine-rich whey protein isolate in children diagnosed with autism. The primary function of this research is to establish whether taking a 90-day diet of cysteine-rich whey proteins (which comes in a powder form), will have a positive effect on autistic behaviors. Improvements in affected behaviors may result in an enhanced quality of life for both children and their families. During the clinical study, there will be an analysis of the children’s exhibited behaviors.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder currently affecting as many as 1 in 68 children in the United States. The conventional treatment for autism is centered on special schooling and behavioral therapy, and other conventional medical treatments. Whey protein isolate, which is used in this study, is a derivative of dairy product manufacturing, and is commonly used as a dietary supplement or food additive ingredient. The NSU-Immunotec study’s principal investigator is Ana Maria Castejon, Ph.D., who is an associate professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy. She and her research team are very enthusiastic about the potential outcomes of this study. “Parents and caregivers are trying different approaches that have gained significant popularity, but have not been proven to be effective,” Castejon said. Castejon is joined by co-investigators at NSU’s Mailman Segal Center of Human Development. These researchers have vast experience in children with developmental disorders, specifically in the area of autism behavior.