Protein found in brain cells may be key to autism
"These findings and the mouse model now allow us to figure out the precise neural circuit defects responsible for these abnormal behaviours”
- Dr Guoping Feng Now of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Scientists have shown how a single protein may trigger autistic spectrum disorders by stopping effective communication between brain cells.
The team from Duke University in North Carolina created autistic mice by mutating the gene which controls production of the protein, Shank3.
The animals exhibited social problems, and repetitive behaviour - both classic signs of autism and related conditions.
The Nature study raises hopes of the first effective drug treatments.