Medical school claims reversal of social deficits in mice

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ASPartOfMe
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04 Dec 2018, 3:01 am

Autism spectrum social deficits reversed in mouse model

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An unconventional approach has successfully reversed deficits in social behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in genetic, environmental and idiopathic mouse models of the condition. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine report in the journal Neuron that administration of the bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri could lead to specific changes in the brain that reverse social deficits through a mechanism that involves the vagus nerve and the oxytocin-dopamine reward system. These findings hold hope for the development of novel therapies for neurological disorders by modulating specific microbes in the gut.

The causes of ASD could be of genetic, environmental or idiopathic origin, Costa-Mattioli explains, and there are mouse models mimicking each of these condition. So, the researchers investigated whether L. reuteri could also rescue social behavior in other mouse models that represent different causes of ASD. Surprisingly, they discovered that, indeed, L. reuteri can trigger the recovery of social behaviors in all the models they tested, suggesting that this microbial-based approach could improve social behavior in a wider subset of ASD.

The researchers then applied multiple technical approaches to explore the mechanism that mediates L. reuteri’s rescue of social behavior in a mouse model of ASD.

“We discovered that L. reuteri promotes social behavior via the vagus nerve, which bidirectionally connects the gut and the brain,” said first author Dr. Martina Sgritta, a postdoctoral associate in the Costa-Mattioli lab.

It is known that when the vagus nerve is active, it releases oxytocin, a hormone that promotes social interaction. Oxytocin is released into the reward areas of the brain where it binds to molecules called oxytocin receptors, triggering ‘social reward.’ Sgritta and colleagues tested whether disrupting the vagus connection between the gut and the brain or interfering with oxytocin binding to its receptors would affect L. reuteri’s ability to restore social behaviors in mouse models of ASD.

“Interestingly, we found that when the vagus nerve connecting the brain and the gut was severed, L. reuteri could not restore social behavior in ASD mice,” Sgritta said. “In addition, when we genetically engineered mice to lack oxytocin receptors in the reward neurons or blocked the receptors with specific drugs, L. reuteri also could not restore social behaviors in the ASD mice.”

“We have begun to decipher the mechanism by which a gut microbe modulates brain function and behaviors. This could be key in the development of new more effective therapies,” Costa-Mattioli said.

Other contributors of this work include Sean W. Dooling, Shelly A. Buffington, Eric N. Momin, Michael B. Francis, and Robert A. Britton, all at Baylor College of Medicine.

This work was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (R01 MH112356) and Sammons Enterprise.


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B19
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04 Dec 2018, 3:34 pm

The same outfit made the same claims in 2016.



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04 Dec 2018, 5:19 pm

B19 wrote:
The same outfit made the same claims in 2016.
Science, like celebrity, has its share of "Overnight Successes" that have taken years, or even decades to achieve.

Be patient.



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04 Dec 2018, 5:27 pm

I could find no replications nor critique of this isolated study. Which is sadly true of most claims like this posted on WP for over a decade. That should make us cautious, not just patient. The career building, research fund and publicity seeking scientists with one track minds seize on AS for the easy money available, science isn't as lilywhite as many people readily imagine. Agenda-led research dominates the field, and shonky studies with sensational claims characterise it in a way not seen in other fields. We should question why this is.



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04 Dec 2018, 6:08 pm

As if there weren't enough sociable mice in the world already.

8)


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04 Dec 2018, 6:11 pm

Darmok wrote:
As if there weren't enough sociable mice in the world already.

8)


Love it. :D :D


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04 Dec 2018, 7:14 pm

B19 wrote:
I could find no replications nor critique of this isolated study. Which is sadly true of most claims like this posted on WP for over a decade. That should make us cautious, not just patient. The career building, research fund and publicity seeking scientists with one track minds seize on AS for the easy money available, science isn't as lilywhite as many people readily imagine. Agenda-led research dominates the field, and shonky studies with sensational claims characterise it in a way not seen in other fields. We should question why this is.

0.o



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04 Dec 2018, 7:54 pm

B19 wrote:
I could find no replications nor critique of this isolated study. Which is sadly true of most claims like this posted on WP for over a decade. That should make us cautious, not just patient. The career building, research fund and publicity seeking scientists with one track minds seize on AS for the easy money available, science isn't as lilywhite as many people readily imagine. Agenda-led research dominates the field, and shonky studies with sensational claims characterise it in a way not seen in other fields. We should question why this is.


I am the user who has been posting a lot of these claims. The sheer number of these questionable claims and excitement about them coming out of "esteemed" institutions is a constant reminder that despite all the acceptance talk there is a lot of desperation to cure autism.

It makes me wonder if outside of Autistic people and our true allies a lot of acceptance and neurodiversity talk is a coping mechanism to deal with the "Autism curse".


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04 Dec 2018, 8:03 pm

^ I looked at that press release and didn't find a link to the original research paper. Have you come across it?


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05 Dec 2018, 3:49 am

The current trend in these sensationalist claims is to use "cause" as a code for "cure", while the underlying ethos of the curebie "amazing breakthrough" research is unchanged.

APOM, I am fine with your posts informing us of these claims. I have a longstanding concern, as you will know, with the gullibity with which they are publicised, as well as concerns about huge gaps in the approaches that are used to embellish these claims from scientists who are demonstrate no critical thinking in regard to their own work and ambition. It is the irresponsible and self-promoting authors that I have issues with and their colleague and media enablers.

In medical and psychological fields of science, eliminating symptoms with no idea of why they are there to begin with, especially when the unintended effects are neither considered nor well understood, tends to result in false claims of cures, exploits the layperson's ignorance of scientific malpractice, and endangers AS children of 'desperate' curebie parents. I think the eliminating symptoms mentality is as bad an approach as outright curebism, yet in autism it is tolerated and even encouraged, (certainly enabled) because we are a particularly demonised population, and the lack of respect is ingrained in these often young, hotshot wannabes on the lower or outer rungs of the scientific career ladder who want their name associated with "autism expert" because that is where the money is. And how.

The lack of critical theory applied by AS people to these claims is my other concern, though that is a gap not motivated by self interest, as the shonky cause-cure wannabe researchers are.



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05 Dec 2018, 3:49 am

sly279 wrote:
B19 wrote:
I could find no replications nor critique of this isolated study. Which is sadly true of most claims like this posted on WP for over a decade. That should make us cautious, not just patient. The career building, research fund and publicity seeking scientists with one track minds seize on AS for the easy money available, science isn't as lilywhite as many people readily imagine. Agenda-led research dominates the field, and shonky studies with sensational claims characterise it in a way not seen in other fields. We should question why this is.

0.o



I have no idea what your response is supposed to mean.



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05 Dec 2018, 4:09 am

B19 wrote:
The current trend in these sensationalist claims is to use "cause" as a code for "cure", while the underlying ethos of the curebie "amazing breakthrough" research is unchanged.

APOM, I am fine with your posts informing us of these claims. I have a longstanding concern, as you will know, with the gullibity with which they are publicised, as well as concerns about huge gaps in the approaches that are used to embellish these claims from scientists who are demonstrate no critical thinking in regard to their own work and ambition. It is the irresponsible and self-promoting authors that I have issues with and their colleague and media enablers.

In medical and psychological fields of science, eliminating symptoms with no idea of why they are there to begin with, especially when the unintended effects are neither considered nor well understood, tends to result in false claims of cures, exploits the layperson's ignorance of scientific malpractice, and endangers AS children of 'desperate' curebie parents. I think the eliminating symptoms mentality is as bad an approach as outright curebism, yet in autism it is tolerated and even encouraged, (certainly enabled) because we are a particularly demonised population, and the lack of respect is ingrained in these often young, hotshot wannabes on the lower or outer rungs of the scientific career ladder who want their name associated with "autism expert" because that is where the money is. And how.

The lack of critical theory applied by AS people to these claims is my other concern, though that is a gap not motivated by self interest, as the shonky cause-cure wannabe researchers are.

I post them because I am confident that people here will dissect them a see them for what they are.


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05 Dec 2018, 6:20 pm

Another anti-science thread ... even if it didn't start out to be. I found the body of research by the Baylor researchers interesting and I respect the methodical extension of findings to broaden the original finding (presumably that reported in 2016). For instance, finding similar results in each of the three animal models, which was not expected.

If you haven't studied sciences in depth, nor the philosophy of science, you probably shouldn't be yakking about "shonky" studies. That's as ridiculous as me trying to analyze the chord structure of a symphony.

And claiming that scientists go chasing after autism research because it's so trendy and audiences so vulnerable have no concept of how science research is actually funded.

This anti-science platform is the sort of paranoia that led to anti-vaxxers. At least acknowledge that you have a bias, if you're going to talk this way.


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05 Dec 2018, 6:36 pm

The best part of my academic career was teaching critical theory and philosophy of science to stage 3 students.



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07 Dec 2018, 2:33 am

The Economist has written an article about the study

Quote:
Clearly, autism in people is more complicated than a mere willingness to associate with others. And getting too excited about a mouse trial is usually a mistake. But in Dr Costa-Mattioli’s view his results, which have been replicated in part by Evan Elliot’s laboratory in Bar-Ilan University, Israel, would justify embarking on at least preliminary trials intended to determine whether L. reuteri has positive effects on people with autism, and might thus be worth pursuing.

Others agree. Sarkis Mazmanian of the California Institute of Technology works in the same area. He says of these results: “I think the bar is now very low for getting this research moved on to human trials since most people already have these bacteria inside them and we know there are few, if any, safety or toxicity issues.”

The general availability of L. reuteri does, however, bring with it another possibility—that people will conduct their own, “off label” trials, either on themselves or on their children. Dr Mazmanian is cautious about that idea. “I don’t know if there is a barrier to people buying and using this stuff now. It may be strain-specific and the paper does not state which strain or strains were used,” he says.

At the moment, Dr Costa-Mattioli is unwilling to divulge that information. He is expecting to publish another paper soon, though, with more details. In practice, it may be hard to discourage people from testing L. reuteri’s effects themselves. All the more reason to do properly conducted trials quickly.


This article adds more detail and proper caution while still giving the reader a sense of the desperation common among articles about autism studies.


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