Researchers from Florida Atlantic University, US, have found a new pathway in the brain associated with the behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a drug to quell these symptoms.
The drug treated the behavioral disruptions in mice with autism. Scientists believe that it may have the same effect for adults with the condition.
Firstly, 25 years ago, it was discovered that a genetic mutation interferes with the serotonin regulation in people with autism. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter to the feeling of happiness and plays important role in social functioning.
Then, a particular enzyme was found that had a drastic effect on the reabsorption of serotonin. After that, an experimental compound called MW150 was developed and tested on mice.
Last year a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, US, developed a simple blood test for diagnosing ASD (autism spectrum disorder). At the present moment, a follow-up study confirms the original finding.
In this test, there is an algorithm that takes into account the presence and concentration of numerous chemicals in the blood associated with ASD.
To make the test more predictive, the scientists worked with children divided into several groups within the existing studies. Using the test, they found 154 aged from 2 5o 17 years.
Systems biologist and senior author Juergen Hahn says: “This is an approach that we would like to see move forward into clinical trials and ultimately into a commercially available test.” She also adds: “We were able to predict with 88% accuracy whether children have autism.”