Advances Made Against Autism
Several disorders whose symptoms are similar to autism have been traced to specific genetic mutations. Scientists hope that my toggling specific genes, an autism treatment is closer.
What's the Latest Development?
Two diseases with symptoms similar to autism have been traced to specific genetic mutations. The discovery, made by MIT neuroscientist Mark Bear, may lead to the development of new treatments. Bear found that a specific receptor, known as mGluR5, plays an important part in creating synapses, or connections between neurons in the brain. The two diseases, Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis, either cause a protein overload or a deprivation, causing symptoms similar to those exhibited by autism.
What's the Big Idea?
Determining that different diseases with similar symptoms have opposite causes—either too much protein or not enough—is an important step toward developing tailored treatments. "There are currently no good tests for which genetic markers a particular autistic patient may have, but if drugs that inhibit and/or stimulate mGluR5 are approved, scientists may be able to identify which autistic patients respond to which drugs, and then try to identify a biomarker in those patients that could be used for future diagnostic tests."
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It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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