Friday, April 27, 2012
Experimental Drug Eases Autistic Behaviors in Mice
WEDNESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug reduced two signature characteristics of autism -- repetitive behavior and abnormal social interactions -- in laboratory mice, new research finds.
The drug, GRN-529, targets glutamate, a major neurotransmitter found throughout the brain that's involved with activating neurons, or brain cells. Researchers believe the compound works through a specific glutamate receptor (mGluR5) and decreases glutamate activity.
Researchers bred mice to have the hallmarks of autism -- including unusual social interactions, impaired communication and repetitive self-grooming -- and injected them with GRN-529.
Almost immediately, the mice showed fewer repetitive behaviors and more normal social interactions, although their communication was still not typical.
"These findings offer encouragement that research focused on developing medicines for core symptoms of autism are gaining momentum," said study co-author Robert Ring, vice president for translational research for Autism Speaks, an autism research and advocacy organization.