Another study has been published, the results of which, according to Science Centric,adds to evidence that autism is a brain 'connectivity' disorder. I had previously commented on brain connectivity in April 2009 noting that a study at that time was supportive of a previous, 2006, study linking autism disorders to brain connectivity issues: Autism's Four C's: Cerebellum, Connectivity, Coordination, Communication. If further study results indicate that autism deficits arise from brain connectivity disorders will the autism spectrum disorders come to be known as the Brain Connectivity Disorders? More importantly, if brain connectivity is the biological problem that gives rise to autism disorders will effective treatments and cures be developed targeting the connectivity issues?
As reported on Science Direct the study's lead researcher Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, of Children's Department of Neurology, made statements that hold out some hope that treatments might ultimately result from further brain connectivity research :
"'People have started to look at autism as a developmental disconnection syndrome - there are either too many connections or too few connections between different parts of the brain,' says Sahin. 'In the mouse models, we're seeing an exuberance of connections, consistent with the idea that autism may involve a sensory overload, and/or a lack of filtering of information.'
Sahin hopes that the brain's miswiring can be corrected by drugs targeting the molecular pathways that cause it. The mTOR pathway is emerging as central to various kinds of axon abnormalities, and drugs inhibiting mTOR has already been approved by the FDA. For example, one mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, is currently used mainly to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, and Sahin plans to launch a clinical trial of a rapamycin-like drug in approximately 50 patients with TSC later this year, to see if the drug improves neurocognition, autism and seizures."
This is one father of a severely autistic son who is hoping that such research does lead to viable autism treatments and cures. I want my son to have the opportunity to participate as fully in life as I have done. Correcting connectivity issues that would enhance his understanding of the world? Absolutely.