- Al Czap, the founder of Tesseract Medical Research, has developed a remarkable supplement called AuRx, which is designed to help children with autism
- AuRx uses butyric acid to improve gut health, potentially alleviating gastrointestinal distress and improving emotional and behavioral function via the gut-brain axis
- Czap shares with us the success stories of two boys with autism that suggest AuRx can play a pivotal role in supporting patients
When your child is struggling, you’re willing to overcome as many obstacles as it takes to ensure that they get the care they need. But when a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), many parents feel powerless despite their best efforts. This is understandable; parents often feel demoralized after trying a multitude of ineffective treatments and coping with complex combinations of disruptive symptoms.1 If you’re like most parents of children with ASD, you wish there was a safe, reliable therapy that could address a bevy of your child’s social, emotional, and cognitive struggles.
As the founder of Tesseract Medical Research, Al Czap is well-versed in the difficulties faced by patients with autism and their caregivers as well as the challenge of finding a successful treatment regimen. Over the course of his career in therapy development, Czap has gleaned keen insights into the disorder, its treatments, and the need for continued innovation to provide meaningful symptom relief. “8 or 10 years ago, these kids with ASD were out of luck because nobody could help them,” Czap remembers. But now, thanks in part to Czap himself, that is changing.
Working hand in hand with some of the most esteemed investigators in the field of autism research, Czap created a medical food called AuRx intended to support children with a broad variety of ASD symptoms. Now, parents are witnessing remarkable success stories when AuRx becomes a part of the treatment plan.
How AuRx Works to Support Patients with ASD
Most therapies designed for patients with ASD target the patient’s central nervous system. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that multiple ASD symptoms—and perhaps even the origin of ASD itself—is deeply tied to gut health. As such, AuRx seeks to support the health of the gastrointestinal tract, which is connected to the central nervous system via the gut-brain axis.
When the gastrointestinal tract experiences inflammation, it stimulates the gut-brain axis, leading to sensations of bloating and abdominal discomfort while also exacerbating behavioral symptoms like social withdrawal, anxiety, and irritability in patients with ASD. This is significant because patients with ASD often experience high levels of inflammation in the gut, meaning that their gut-brain axis is chronically overstimulated. Minimizing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can reduce this overstimulation of the gut-brain axis, thus leading to fewer behavioral and gastrointestinal symptoms.2
The primary ingredient in AuRx a molecule that is naturally present in the gastrointestinal tract: butyric acid. In the human body, butyric acid is produced when the symbiotic bacteria which live in the gut break down dietary fiber. Once the gut bacteria have produced butyric acid, that acid is consumed by human cells in the gut as an energy source. In fact, butyric acid is the preferred energy source of the cells in the gut, allowing them to operate at high efficiency. Efficient gut cells are better able to process food, potentially leading to fewer episodes of constipation and less gastrointestinal distress. Notably, patients with ASD tend to suffer from insufficient levels of butyric acid in their gut, which may partially explain why they experience higher levels of GI problems and food intolerances. Supplemental butyric acid, however, works to normalize the gastrointestinal environment and provides the critical support needed for improved gut health.
Butyric acid can directly support the gut-brain axis and reduce unwarranted stimulation that might lead to behavioral symptoms. To prevent over-stimulation of the gut-brain axis, butyric acid behaves as an “all-clear” signal to the white blood cells of the gut; when the white blood cells of the gut are exposed to butyric acid, they generate less inflammation. With less inflammation, there is less stimulation of the gut-brain axis. As such, butyric acid can help the gastrointestinal tract to function more efficiently while also lowering inflammation and making the patient more comfortable both physically and psychologically.
AuRx Opens New Doors for Symptoms Relief
While scientific logic behind AuRx is compelling, the stories of patients who have used it are even more powerful. One of those involves a 10-year-old boy whose parents contacted Czap after other treatments failed to provide relief and they feared for his future. Without effective treatment, the boy faced consistent difficulty in school due to his irritable outbursts and struggled with numerous behavioral problems stemming from his diminished ability to communicate. His parents were active in his care, but no treatment had been able to stop his daily behavioral incidents. Additionally, like many children with ASD, he was being bullied by his peers, causing him to suffer emotional damage.
His parents knew that the disorder was endangering the boy’s chance at having a happy, fulfilling, and independent life, and they were desperate for a solution. After a consultation with Czap, the child started taking AuRx to give him greater support. Shortly after starting AuRx, the boy’s parents reported a bevy of changes in his behavior, including:
- Reduced pickiness when eating
- Improved appetite
- Greater attention to social cues
- Fewer frustrated outburst
- Enhanced mood
These changes weren’t coincidental; when he was without AuRx on a family vacation, his symptoms quickly returned and were only brought back under control when AuRx was resumed.
Of course, one success story with AuRx isn’t the same as a properly controlled clinical trial to investigate a supplement’s efficacy. However, this child isn’t the only patient who experienced tremendous improvements when taking AuRx.
Max’s AuRx Success Story
Max was six when Czap met him. “He didn’t have the worst ASD, but he was definitely on the spectrum,” Czap says. “Max had many problems at school, and he wouldn’t really want to go outside. He didn’t want to look you in the eye if you spoke.” Max’s parents tried multiple treatments and interventions, but they felt that the treatments didn’t help him as much as he needed, particularly in social situations.
But Max’s social apprehensions weren’t his only struggles. Out of necessity, Max’s parents tucked him into bed each night with pillows pressing against his limbs on all sides to insulate him from unwanted tactile sensations that prevented him from sleeping. These sensory issues are pervasive in patients with ASD, and can be extraordinarily difficult to resolve.3 In addition sensory issues, many of Max’s difficulties stemmed from his inability to perform tasks which required sustained attention — another common problem for patients with ASD.4 One of these tasks was tying shoes and his inability to tie his shoes became a constant source of ridicule among his peers.
After consulting with Czap, however, things changed. Max’s parents found that AuRx gave him the cognitive tools that he needed to overcome what had once been insurmountable obstacles. “He took his first dose with dinner, and his second in the morning and by two in the afternoon, he could tie his shoes!” Czap remembers. And the transformation didn’t stop there. With the help of AuRx and his parents’ continued support, Max was able to reach a new level of independence and a higher quality of life; much to the joy of his parents, as his executive function and sensory issues improved, so too did his demeanor, leaving him more sociable and happy than before.
There were other changes to celebrate, too. Alongside Max’s newfound gregariousness and shoe-tying ability, his teachers reported that his performance in school had massively improved. Significantly, Max also became willing to talk with Czap. While once fearful of social situation, Max was now interested in initiating new social contact—a critical milestone in his growth. Max explicitly attributed these changes directly to AuRx, calling it “the magic powder.”
Transforming the Lives of Children with ASD
For these two boys—and many others—AuRx was decisively beneficial, and their families were lifted to new heights as a result. However, it’s important to note that starting AuRx wasn’t the end of their treatments for ASD; Czap notes that even with AuRx, many children with ASD will still need special support.
“In some of these kids, just the AuRx makes a vast difference. In others, you definitely have to go through some dietary changes as well,” Czap explains. Dietary changes typically involve modifying the type or quantity of fiber that the patient consumes, which can sometimes interfere with treatment or aggravate ASD symptoms. The age of the patient taking AuRx is also relevant. “The younger we can intervene, the quicker we can analyze them and the better served we are in the treatment of these kids.”
But while AuRx may not be sufficient monotherapy for all patients, it could complement other types of intervention, allowing patients to achieve optimal results when added to a comprehensive treatment plan. For example, improved social abilities and fewer disruptive behaviors can help children participate more meaningfully in social skills training. Meanwhile, improved gut health and digestion can make it easier to adhere to and benefit from specialty diets. In other words, the results of a combined strategy may exede what each intervention could accomplish alone.
For now, AuRx is only available via practitioners and parents who are interested in integrating in treatment should speak with their child’s doctor about integrating it in treatment. In the future, however, Tesseract Medical Research has plans to bring AuRx to over-the-counter status, which will increase access and lead to more success stories. “When you hit a patient’s issues really well, it makes your heart melt,” Czap says. And with the growing use of AuRx, parents of children with ASD may soon be moved.
- Wozniak RH, Leezenbaum NM, Northrup JB, West KL, and Iverson JM. 2017. The development of autism spectrum disorders: variability and causal complexity. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews in Cognitive Science. 8(1-2):10.1002/wcs.1426. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5182138/
- Bourassa MW, Alim I, Bultman SJ, and Ratan RR. 2016. Butyrate, neuroepigenetics, and the gut microbiome: can a high fiber diet improve brain health? Neuroscience Letters. 625:56-63. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304394016300775
- Sinclair D, Oranje B, Razak KA, Siegel SJ, and Schmid S. 2017. Sensory processing in autism spectrum disorders and fragile X syndrome — from the clinic to animal models. Neuroscience and Biobehavior Review. 76(B):235-253. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465967/
- Craig F, Margari F, Legrottaglie AR, Palumbi R, de Giambattista C, et al. 2016. A review of executive function deficits in autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric Disease Treatment. 12:1191-1202. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27274255