Experiments, spearheaded by Dr. Steve Clapcote from the University of Leeds‘s Faculty of Biological Sciences, are looking for autism links to Schizophrenia and antipsychotic drugs.
In Clapcote’s autism research, he is using mice affected by both autism and schizophrenia; linking both disorders to a similar mutation of neurexin 1a. The protein, neurexin 1a, is important because it forms and maintains nerve signals in the brain. Since autisic individuals have trouble forming new thoughts and learning, lack or deficiency of neurexin 1a is thought to be considered a cause of autism.
In related experiments, other autism research in America also linked autism with schizophrenia when observing two groups of mice that have each condition respectively, but shared behavioral abnormalities.
Clapcote expects to face some obstacles in the study as well. “We don’t fully understand how the drugs used to treat schizophrenia and some symptoms of autism work,” explained Clapcote.
The doctor continued on to say, “If we can show they can affect mice with this particular genetic mutation, then it gives us a clue to better understand the illnesses and opens up the possibility of more targeted treatments with fewer side effects.”
In order to discover the link between the drugs, schizophrenia and autism, Clapcote will analyze mice affected by the neurexin 1a mutation. Similar to symptoms in autistic individuals, Clapcote will analyze the mice’s behavior including: hyperactivity, sensitivity to psycho-stimulants, attention levels, memory, social interaction and learning. To do this Clapcote will implement bat recorders to understand how the high-pitched mice communicate with each other.
For more information on this story, please check back. The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism) will continue to post on this topic, as new details are received.
Official link to site: www.icare4autism.org