Scientists claim, that if the production of a specific protein in the brain is normalized, it can remove the behavioral problems of autistic character. It is reported by the Nature journal.
An international team of scientists conducted a series of experiments on mice. The scientists from the Center for Neural Science at New York University, University of California, University of San Francisco, and three French research institutions (University of Aix-Marseille, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and the French National Center for Scientific Research) focused on a gene called EIF4E, the elevated levels of which are associated with autism.
The scientists found that the mice with increased synthesis of this protein demonstrated the behavior typical of autism: they monotonously repeated the same movements, seldom interacted with other mice and could not find a way out of a slightly modified labyrinth, which they previously coped well with. The brain of these mice demonstrated changes in communication in the areas related to behavioral problems.
To remove these symptoms, the researchers used a drug that reduced protein synthesis. As a result, the mice that received the drug suffered less from intrusive movements, willingly communicated with the neighboring mice and found the way out of a modified maze. Additional research showed that these changes were probably due to the reduced production of the protein – its synthesis was at the same level with healthy mice.
The experts say it is difficult to create a cure for disorders of the autistic spectrum. However, they believe that their findings would provide a potential direction for any further research. The experiments confirmed the general nature of several of these disorders, but they also proved that behavioral changes in patients could be reversed.