Israeli researchers discover gene mechanism for some autism

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ASPartOfMe
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24 May 2022, 8:56 am

Israeli researchers discover gene mechanism thought to cause some forms of autism

Quote:
Tel Aviv University researchers have identified a previously unknown mechanism shared by mutations in two genes which are thought to cause autism, schizophrenia and other conditions, the institution announced Tuesday.

Researchers also found that an existing experimental drug may be suitable for treating a range of rare syndromes caused by these mutations, which impair brain functions.

According to the researchers, their new findings could lead to the development of effective treatments for some cases of autism, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

“Some cases of autism are caused by mutations in various genes,” said Prof. Illana Gozes from the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. “Today we know of more than 100 genetic syndromes associated with autism, 10 of which are considered relatively common (though still extremely rare).”

The study focused on one such syndrome, called activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) syndrome, which is caused by mutations in the ADNP gene and disrupts the function of the ADNP protein. This leads to structural defects in neurons in the brain. The disorder can affect muscle tone, feeding, growth, hearing, vision, sleep, fine and gross motor skills, as well as the immune system, heart, endocrine system, and gastrointestinal tract. ADNP syndrome causes behavior disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.

The study focused on one such syndrome, called activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) syndrome, which is caused by mutations in the ADNP gene and disrupts the function of the ADNP protein. This leads to structural defects in neurons in the brain. The disorder can affect muscle tone, feeding, growth, hearing, vision, sleep, fine and gross motor skills, as well as the immune system, heart, endocrine system, and gastrointestinal tract. ADNP syndrome causes behavior disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.

In the study, the researchers identified a specific mechanism that causes this damage in mutations in the ADNP and in the SHANK3 gene, which is associated with autism and schizophrenia. The researchers estimated that the two mutations are responsible for thousands of autism cases around the world, Gozes said.

At the next stage of the study, the researchers found additional sites on the ADNP protein that can bond with SHANK3 and similar proteins. One of these sites is located on NAP, a section of ADNP that was developed into an experimental drug, known as davunetide, by Gozes’s lab.

The researchers then demonstrated that extended treatment with davunetide improved the behavior of model animals with autism caused by SHANK3.

The results of the study were published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal earlier this month.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


ThisTimelessMoment
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24 May 2022, 3:22 pm

"Model animals". Please let me not be one of those!
They seem awefuly certain about a lot of things.


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