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.
A new study, published in the medical journal JAMA, finds that the more teenagers involved in social media, the higher their risk is to develop the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These symptoms may include inattention, hyperactivity, restlessness or impulsivity that is more severe, frequent or debilitating compared to normal.
In the study, 2,587 students from 10 high schools across Los Angeles County, USA, were included. The participants’ age was from 15 to 16 years. Nobody of them had significant symptoms of ADHD at the beginning of the study. They participated in the study for over 2 years.
The analysis of the received data showed that averagely 9.5% of the participants who were engaged in seven high-frequency digital media activities reported symptoms of ADHD; 10.5% of those who reported engaging in all 14 high-frequency digital media activities reported ADHD symptoms.
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.”
A team of researchers from McMaster University’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in collaboration with Sick Children’s Hospital identified genetic alterations in the gene DIXDC1 in people with autism spectrum disorder. This gene is responsible for changing the way brain cells communicate and grow.
The study suggests new insights into ASD that will help develop new medications for individuals with the condition.
Karun Singh, a scientist with the Stem Cell and Cancer Research, who was a lead author of the study, says: “Because we pinpointed why DIXDC1 is turned off in some forms of autism, my lab at the SCCRI, which specializes in drug discovery, now has the opportunity to begin the searching for drugs that will turn DIXDC1 back on and correct synaptic connections. This is exciting because such a drug would have the potential to be a new treatment for autism.”