Autism is a genetic desease that affects 1% of the overall population. Autism rates have recently increased and they are dangerously still on the rise. A recent medical breakthrough could be the end of autism as we know it.
Autism is characterized by a set of behavior symptoms. Some researchers have found that 1% of the people who are diagnosed with autism are missing a critical gene responsible for brain development. This gene is known as Shank3 and it has been found to be able to reverse many of the behavior symptoms of autism. This, as well as being a sensation breakthrough, it also carries with it a revolutionary assumption: even the adult brain has got some kind of plasticity! Now there is a real hope for autistic patients to get a treatment.
Another important thing is that different results are achieved based on when the Shank3 gene is activated in the mice’s development. The explanation to it is that probably some neural circuits are more plastic than others. Infact, certain circuits are created through the development, some of them are irreversible, others can be changed. The key is to understand which circuits control each behavior and what are the changes at a structural level.
All this suggests that a gene therapy may ultimately prove an effective therapy for this disease!