MIT scientists have discovered one of the mechanisms of Fragile X Syndrome, one cause of autism, and are developing drugs to treat it, NPR reports. The disorder, triggered by a genetic mutation, interferes with the normal links between brain cells, making those networks something like a car without a brakes. The new drugs limit acceleration, and have been successful in mice.
If the drugs prove to have a more widespread effect, this could mean a huge life change for those with Fragile X Syndrome. A more regulated neural system could allow their IQs to rise and symptoms of autism to wane. The scientists' work on obscure topics led them "from really basic science discovery to a potential treatment," says one of the scientists involved.