New research led by the State University of New York at Buffalo suggests that an anti-cancer drug may be able to reverse social impairments associated with autism.
Autism patients have particular difficulty interacting with others and forming relationships
The research published in the journal of Nature Neuroscience, reported that low doses of romidepsin an anti-cancer drug approved in the United States for the treatment of lymphoma, “restored gene expression and reversed social deficits” in a mouse model of autism.
This gives high expectations that they may probably do same in humans.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is a developmental condition, affects behavior, social interaction, and communication.
Statistics that were compiled in the U.S. suggest that 1 in 68 children have ASD and that it is around four to five times more common in boys than in girls.
Although it is possible to diagnose the disorder at age 2, most diagnoses of ASD are not confirmed before the age of 4.
The new study is thought to be the first to show that it may be possible to alleviate this primary symptom of ASD by targeting a large number of genes associated with the disorder.
Speaking on the study, Zhen Yan, senior study author and professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics said; “We have discovered a small molecule compound that shows a profound and prolonged effect on autism-like social deficits without obvious side effects….”
In their study, Prof. Yan and her team found that 3 days of treatment with low doses of romidepsin “reversed social deficits” in mice with a deficient SHANK3 gene, which is a known risk factor for ASD.
The reversal in social deficits lasted for 3 weeks, from juvenile into late adolescence, which is a critical period in mice for developing communication and social skills and is equivalent to several human years.
The researchers therefore suggest that a similar treatment might be long-lasting in humans.