The symptoms of autism can be switched off by a $3 epilepsy drug: scientists

There has been a report about a breakthrough discovery by scientists about a three-dollar-per-bill epilepsy drug that can be used to switch off the autism symptoms in mice. Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that impacts the way in which an estimated population of 5.4 million adults and also one in every forty-four children in the United States of America socialize with other people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the disorder is mostly accompanied by abnormalities like hyperactivity or epilepsy.

The Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research of Germany has found that the medication of lamotrigine, which is a drug used for anti-seizure that was approved for use in the United States in the year 1994, was able to curb the social problems and behavioral problems that were linked to the disorder. The findings of the team from Germany are now being considered as the best possible option for a potential cure for the problem.

According to the lead researcher and cellular biologist Moritz Mall, drug treatment during adulthood can cause dysfunction of the brain cells and, thus, counteract the behavioral abnormalities which are typical of autism. He also said that this also occurs after the absence of MYT1L has already affected the development of the brain during the developing phase of the organism.

Lamotrigine is sold under the brand name Lamictal. This is one of the medications which are used for the treatment of epilepsy and also for stabilizing the mood of people who suffer from bipolar disorder. This drug generally sells for the price of three dollars per bill. This works by reversing the changes happening to the cells of the brain caused by a genetic mutation.

Scientists have spent a long time over the years searching for the molecular abnormalities which contribute to ASD and, after intensive research, found out that MYT1L protein is one of the proteins that play an important role in different neuronal diseases. This protein is a transcription factor produced by most of the body cells, which decides the active and inactive cells of the body. The protein also protects the identity of the nerve cells of the body by suppressing all the other pathways that program the cell of the human body toward the tissue or the muscles. The mutation of this protein has already been linked to neurological diseases and different malformations in the brain.

The impact of this protein on the symptoms of autism has been tested by researchers at HITBR. The researchers switched off the MYT1L in the human and mouse nerve cells genetically. The researchers then found that this switching off of the MYT1L leads to electrophysiological hyperactivation in the mouse and also the human neurons, which are impairing nerve function. The mice that were lacking the MYT1L started to suffer from brain abnormalities and showed different behavioral changes similar to that of ASD, like social deficits.

The researchers also noted that the most striking observation during the research was the discovery that the MYT1L protein-deficient neurons started producing some extra sodium channels, which are generally to the cells that are present in the cells of the heart muscles. These are the proteins that are extremely critical for the electrical conductivity and the functioning of cells because they allow the sodium ions to pass through the cell membrane. The nerve cells that produce these sodium channels in large amounts can cause electrophysiological hyperactivation, which is a common symptom of autism.