Turning on a gene later in life can restore typical behavior in mice
Autism has diverse genetic causes, most of which are still unknown. About 1 percent of people with autism are missing a gene called Shank3, which is critical for brain development. Without this gene, individuals develop typical autism symptoms including repetitive behavior and avoidance of social interactions.
In a study of mice, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reverse some of those behavioral symptoms by turning the gene back on later in life, allowing the brain to properly rewire itself.
“This suggests that even in the adult brain we have profound plasticity to some degree,” says Guoping Feng, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences. “There is more and more evidence showing that some of the defects are indeed reversible, giving hope that we can develop treatment for autistic patients in the future.”
Learn more: Neuroscientists reverse autism symptoms