Autism-Reversing Drugs Show Promise

MIT scientists stumbled onto workaround for misfiring brain system
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2008 12:50 PM CDT
Eight-year-old Charlie Blakey, who was diagnosed with autism at age 3, eats dinner at his home on Oak Park, Ill., on April 23, 2008.    (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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(Newser) – 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.