Fragile X Syndrome Treatment And Autism-Like Symptoms
This morning NPR ran a story regarding the effects of the Fragile X syndrome that can cause symptoms of autism and mental retardation, and a treatment that could potentially reverse those symptoms. Â The story is fascinating, but is billed as a treatment for autism in general. Â Let's understand the effects of the condition. Â Fragile X Syndrome is a mutation on the X chromosome that effectively disrupts the system in the brain that regulates synapses, which can cause mental retardation and symptoms on the autism spectrum. Â This happens because there is an increase in these synapses, but no regulation to reduce them. Â Therefore synapses are running out of control. Â Until recently there has been no treatment for this condition, but that has now changed as the recent study has begun human testing. Â There are some risks, in that not all on the autism spectrum will respond to the treatment, and the drugs are potentially dangerous. Â The tests are going forward with caution, and I hope they find an effective treatment for this syndrome. Â But I also want to point out that this condition isn't the only cause for autism. Â Recent studies (such as those I have previously posted) point to an overgrowth of neurons during the developmental ages, with a decreased, delayed, or lack of pruning at age 6 as a primary cause of autism. Â The effects are the same, because you have either a system that doesn't slow down synapses, or increased synapses caused by an overgrowth of neurons. Â Both have increased synapse activity, and therefore cause the same symptom. Â So while I think the treatment is ground breaking and definitely worth praise, I want to caution parents out there that this is not the silver bullet for autism. Â Autism can be caused by a number of conditions, only one of which has been found to have a treatment. Â Not all children with autism will have the Fragile X Syndrome. Â The really positive thing is the focus on genetic mutations that are the cause of autism, as opposed to environmental effects. Â Hopefully this study will lead to more funding and focus on other genetic causes that lead to the majority of those on the autism spectrum.