Autism: study published in "Nature" reveals that it is possible to reverse symptoms of the disease in adulthood - A team of American scientists and a Portuguese, Patricia Monteiro, investigated the SHANK3 gene, a gene implicated in autism, an incurable disease that affects about 70 million people worldwide.
A study in which participated the Neurosciences and Cellular Biology Center (CNC), University of Coimbra (UC), published last week in the prestigious "Nature" *, reveals that it is possible to reverse some of the behaviors associated with autism in adulthood.
A team of American scientists and a Portuguese, Patricia Monteiro, investigated the SHANK3 gene, a gene implicated in autism, an incurable disease that affects about 70 million people worldwide. In Portugal it is estimated that the prevalence of 1 case per 1,000 children of school age. In the USA, there has been a tenfold increase in the last 40 years.
Although the source of autism can be quite variable, the SHANK3 gene is associated with a monogenic form of the pathology. When a mutation arises, the resultant protein of this gene - which acts as a "scaffold" that provides access to communication between neurons - does affect the support structure, causing damage to the neuronal circuit.
With autism being a neuropsychiatric disorder that affects the normal child development process and remains throughout life, the team through a pioneering approach, wanted to see if it was worth betting on targeted therapies for patients in adulthood.
Experiments carried out for four years in adult mice subjected to mutation of the gene showed for the first time that it is possible to reverse two of the main symptoms of autism: lack of social interaction and repetitive behavior.
That is, the researchers were able to fix the "scaffolding" and re-establish communication in the structure "during the phase of adult life of these mice, demonstrating that it is possible to reverse the biochemical changes, neuronal communication problems and even improve social interactions and repetitive behaviors" describes Patricia Miller, who participated in the study under the Doctoral Program in Experimental Biology and Biomedicine of the CNC in partnership with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
This discovery 'opens the door for the creation of the first effective drugs in the treatment of the disease. These results indicate that although autism is a developmental disorder, it is possible to intervene in adulthood," says the co-author of the study led by MIT.
"Although these experiments in mice have no direct application in humans," Patricia Monteiro stresses that the study "helps to understand the set of biological alterations present in autism and opens the door to the development of new therapeutic strategies, such as targeted strategies for the improvement of certain behavioral changes that can be reversed in adulthood and not for behavioral changes involving autism as a whole. '
University of Coimbra
Translated from the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru
By Fábio Jesus Menezes de Ribeiro Mendonça e Carvalho
Edited by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey
Director and Chief Editor