McMaster scientists discover autism gene slows down brain cell communication

A new study out of McMaster University’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute gives a greater understanding of the root causes of autism.  The findings, which were published in Cell Reports, point to an “on button” on a strand of protein that instructs brain cells to form connections between brain cells during development.  Researchers have isolated the genetic changes that keep this particular protein strand “turned off” in some people who have autism.  

MacART member Dr. Karun Singh says that researchers can now start looking for drugs that will correct these synaptic connections – although identifying such a drug is likely years away. However, this is an important discovery toward the area of genetic guided personalized drug development.

For more information, see the news stories at CBC and McMaster Daily News.

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