February 20, 2007

Possible key to autism

Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have stumbled upon a clue in the detection of the biological risk factors of autism. They have found that children with autism are unable to metabolize certain fatty acids that help the body fight against inflammation, which damages the brain and other organs. The gene that is responsible for the metabolizing of these fats is called GSTM1, and appears to be missing in many autistic individuals.

Today, autism is diagnosed through a clinical assessment of behavioral symptoms, such as difficulties in social interaction and communication. Yet the researchers propose that future risk and diagnosis could be established through urine samples that check for those specific fatty acids or through blood tests that check for the missing gene.

Inferences from the investigators' findings also help create new avenues of research for a promising treatment/cure for autism:

"The potential treatment, members of the team say, is a kind of 'therapeutic cocktail' tailored to each child, which would give them a dose of a 'good' fatty acid that they are not able to make on their own. Team member Bernd Spur of UMDNJ-Stratford created the chemical process to replicate one of those good fatty acids."
This is very good news. The whole story can be found here.

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