McGill scientists link autistic behavior to brain protein mutation

Posted by Leanne Kodsman on

McGill Universityresearchers and colleagues discovered a protein abnormality linked to symptoms ofautismin mice. Interestingly, as Bloomberg reports, the scientists were able to use an experimental cancer drug to successfully reverse some of the autistic-like behaviors.

Details are published in the journal Nature.


McGill Universityresearchers and colleagues discovered a protein abnormality linked to symptoms ofautismin mice. Interestingly, as Bloomberg reports, the scientists were able to use an experimental cancer drug to successfully reverse some of the autistic-like behaviors.

Details are published in the journal Nature.

As the story explains, the researchers started their work looking at genetically altered mice with major social problems (such as bad communication, social interaction and repetitive behaviors). The animals all had too many neuroligins, substances on the receiving end of a synapse that, in large numbers, can boost the number of synapses to the point of excess. They created an overproduction of neuroligins by putting the 4E-BP2 gene out of commission.

What is noteworthy is that the mutation might actually be reversible, according to the story. An experimental cancer drug helped reduce some of the excess synapses, after which the mice developed better social behavior over time. While the drug appeared too toxic for people, scientists argue that they could find other, related compounds that might work as an autism treatment. Similar drugs might already be available that work in people and address the same molecular pathway.

The bid to find treatments for autism remains controversial. It is also important to note that this treatment concept is early stage and years away from human testing. But the study, backed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Autism Speaks, at least offers another possible course of action down the line.

Innovative Research has supplied McGill University with supplies and reagents for several years. Hopefully our material and reagents have helped McGill further their research and help them provide results driven research.


    Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply thousands of high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.


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