There is currently no cure for autism or treatments that tackle the core symptoms, only behavioral therapies and medications that may improve functioning.
However, researchers from McMaster University in Canada believe they may be one step closer to the development of drugs that could combat autism at its root, after identifying how mutations in a gene called DIXDC1 impair the growth of synapses and impede brain activity.
In detail, the researchers found that some individuals with autism possess mutations that cause the DIXDC1 gene to be “switched off,” meaning synapses remain immature and brain activity is reduced.
“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,” [stated Karun Singh of the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCCRI)].
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