Study: Epilepsy drug could reverse autism symptoms

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(NewsNation) — Researchers discovered a common epilepsy drug may reverse symptoms of autism, at least in mice.

The study builds on research into the effect of protein anomalies on neurological conditions. Changes to the MYT1L protein in mice resulted in behavior changes that can occur in those with autism spectrum disorder.

About one in 44 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is believed to be caused by changes in the brain, with symptoms that include difficulties with social communication and interaction, repetitive and restrictive interests and hyperactivity, among others.

In the recent study, researchers used the drug lamotrigine, typically used to treat epilepsy, to treat mice with a MYT1L abnormality. The mice treated with lamotrigine showed a reversal in some behaviors associated with autism, including hyperactivity.

Rates of autism have risen in recent years, and there has been debate over whether the increase has been caused by environmental or genetic factors or if it’s driven by increased awareness leading to more diagnoses.

There has also been controversy over the search for a cure for autism. While some parents and autistic people are interested in research for a cure, others say their autism is not something that needs to be fixed.

The use of lamotrigine has only been tested in mice so far, though researchers are planning to launch human clinical trials in the future.


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