Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mitochondrial Disease: Expert Unenthusiastic About HBOT

In a truly informative teleconference sponsored by MitoAction on Friday 6 August, the Cleveland Clinic's Bruce Cohen, MD, professed his knowledge and passion for mitochondrial physiology but cast a vote of no confidence for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Dr Cohen (photo right) illuminated his skepticism with a fine basic explanation of how the amazing organelle, the powerhouse of our body's cells, normally works and sometimes malfunctions. He also included a helpful discussion of the scientific method and the clinical trial process.

Cohen doesn't put much stock in case reports and makes no apology for not being able to explain the anecdotal successes his listeners shared, with considerable emotion. From his personal experience, he mentioned witnessing the unfortunate death of a child receiving HBOT and his own successful management of Crohn's disease with an unproven diet regimen. He also insisted that he's open to being proven wrong about the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for mitochondrial disease.

But the burden for producing first-class evidence for HBOT, he maintains, lies with the hyperbaric medical community. We quite agree. He points to the ongoing cerebral palsy trial at the Children's Medical Center of Dayton as exemplary. Cohen's ideal randomized controlled trial for mitochondrial disease would be a crossover study of 20 patients with confirmed genetic disease, with 10 patients receiving HBOT and 10 receiving sham therapy to start, then switching the groups midway through the trial.

Sounds good to us. Let's get on it!

CLICK HERE to access an audio recording of the call, complete with illustrative slides, a lively Q&A session, and postpresentation discussion with patients and families.

Dr Cohen was also on the panel of the Mitochondria and Autism Symposium co-sponsored by the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and Autism Speaks. The panel reports that 5%-10% of patients with autism may also have a likely mitochondrial dysfunction. Not much enthusiasm for HBOT among these experts, either.

CLICK HERE to read the official Autism Speaks blogpost on the symposium.

O2.0 is the news blog of HyperbaricLink, the independent guide to hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment centers, physicians and clinicians, diseases and conditions.

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