RESEARCH NEWS

19 Feb


A POTENTIAL GENE-BASED TREATMENT FOR SOCIAL/BEHAVIORAL IMPAIRMENTS IN AUTISM

 

EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS FOR THE VARIOUS PERIPHERAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ASD (AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER) , THOUGH STILL FEW, HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED IN THE LITERATURE.

ALTHOUGH IT HAS NOT BEEN FOR A LACK OF RESEARCH EFFORTS, EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS FOR THE CORE SYMPTOMS OF ASD REMAIN UNKNOWN.

A RESEARCH TEAM FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA HAS PUBLISHED THEIR FINDINGS REGARDING THE POSSIBILITY OF TREATING SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL IMPAIRMENT IN AUTISM.

THE TREATMENT INVOLVES ADMINISTRATION OF AN ANTIBIOTIC, ALREADY FOUND TO ALLEVIATE ANXIETY AND TO TREAT TUBERCULOSIS.

BASING THEIR APPROACH ON THE KNOWN ROLE OF GENETICS IN THE CAUSAL PATHWAY TOWARDS AUTISM AND USING MICE AS THE RESEARCH SUBJECTS, THE RESEARCHERS TESTED THE EFFECT OF THE ANTIBIOTIC D-CYCLOSERINE ON THE FUNCTIONING OF A GENE (PCDH10) LINKED WITH REDUCED SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL IMPAIRMENTS.

THE RESEARCH WAS CONDUCTED ON MICE WHO HAD BEEN ENGINEERED TO LACK A GENE LINKED WITH SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL FUNCTIONING. FOLLOWING TREATMENT WITH THE ANTIBIOTIC, APPLIED TO THE NEURONS IN THE AMYDALA OF THE MICE (IN WHOM ONE COPY OF THE TARGETED GENE (PCDHI10) WAS DELETED),

THE RESEARCHERS OBSERVED AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE SOCIAL BEHAVIORS OF THE MICE.

THE STUDY IS EARLY AND MANY QUESTIONS REMAIN TO BE ANSWERED.

THE STUDY WAS CONDUCTED IN MICE, RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS IS NEEDED.

THE ANTIBIOTIC D-CYCLOSERINE HAS BEEN PRESCRIBED FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANXIETY AND URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS. LABORTORY STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT THE ANTIBIOTIC D-CYCLOSERINE BOOSTS NMDA GLUTAMATE FUNCTION WHICH IS AN INDICATOR OF DISRUPTED CONNECTIVITY IN NEURAL CIRCUITS. THE LATTER PHENOMENON, IN TURN, HAS BEEN FOUND TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE AUTISM

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS RESEARCH IS THAT DATA FROM THE STUDY ARE EXPECTED TO PROVIDE FURTHER INSIGHT ON HOW GENES IMPACT AUTISM. FURTHERMORE, IF SHOWN TO BE EFFICACIOUS FOR HUMAN SUBJECTS WITH AUTISM, TREATMENT WITH D-CYCLOSERINE WOULD BE EXCEPTIONAL IN ITS POTENTIAL TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF PERSONS WITH AUTISM WHOSE PROMINENT IMPAIRMENT IS IN THE REALM OF SOCIAL ABILITIES.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, volume 81, Issue 3 (2017). Authors: Hannah Schoch, Arati S. Kreibich, Sarah I Ferri, et al.

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