Friday, September 18, 2009
Autism Research: A Breath of Fresh Air
With all the words that are spilled and all the debates that rage over autism cause, cure, treatment and research there is little discussion, let alone effort, to actually find and prove new treatments and cures for autism disorders. It is a breath of fresh air to learn of some autism research that is actually being conducted with a view to HELPING autistic persons FUNCTION better. Such news is seldom heard.
One of the funders of the study is Autism Speaks which often takes heat from all sides in the world's autism communities. Well done Autism Speaks and other funding agencies involved in this effort. Hopefully more research aimed at actually helping autistic persons function better will be conducted in the near future.
Jill Cornfield at Autism Vox has highlighted research by Seaside Therapeutics LLC of a drug that may help autistic persons communicate better. The Seaside Therapeutics LLC press release indicates that it has received $30 million dollars in funding to conduct the study, which builds on the work of Seaside scientific founder Mark Bear of MIT, and explains the theory and aim of the study:
Historically, drug discovery in disorders of brain development has been unproductive largely due to the lack of mechanistic understanding of these disorders, as well as the absence of predictive animal models. Seaside Therapeutics is changing this paradigm through scientific exploration that focuses on identifying the fundamental pathophysiology of brain development disorders and applying this knowledge to develop targeted therapeutics. Recent discoveries by the Company's scientific founder, Mark Bear, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Neuroscience at M.I.T., have revealed a molecular pathway, the mGluR5 signaling cascade, that is disrupted in a specific disorder of brain development - Fragile X Syndrome. With this knowledge, further research has provided insights for developing novel medications to normalize the function of this pathway, which Seaside believes may extend beyond Fragile X into a number of other developmental disorders, including autism.