Speech Therapy

A New Autistic Neuron Model for Diagnosing Autism

Researchers at the University of California have now come up with a new neuron model for diagnosing autism. Using the stem cells of Rett syndrome patients, the research team have been able to create functional neurons. These created functional neurons are the first of its kind and can be very useful in diagnosing and studying autism spectrum disorders.

The scientists believe that this model can also be used for drug screening and testing which would help provide the best treatment to a patient.

Diagnosing Autism: The exact causes of autism are still unknown to date. Research has revealed that the associated disabilities of autism are related to many genes. Also, environmental factors have been known to contribute to autism spectrum disorders.

Thus, any work that can help study and understand autism better is very useful.

  • The present functional neuron model can be used to expand the available facts of autism thus enabling the doctors to better understand the traits and treatment options.
  • Also, how autism turns into a brain disorder from a developmental disorder can now be understood more clearly.
  • The impact of the drugs and therapies on a patient can now be studied at both the cellular and the molecular level.
  • Until now, there has been no model or research that could study the autistic neurons of patients.

Why the Stem Cells of Rett Syndrome Patients?: In Rett syndrome, a child would show no signs of disorder until he/she is at least 18 months old. Once a child crosses this threshold, the child would begin to progressively lose motor skills.

  • There is enough research material on Rett syndrome and doctors have a complete knowledge of its genetic roots. This is the very reason for choosing the cells of the patients suffering from this syndrome.
  • The stem cells in these patients are known to produce connective tissues, instead the researchers used them to produce functional neurons that showed all kinds of developmental delays.
  • The functional neurons were tested with the compound IGF1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1) in rats. The rats showed improvement when they were exposed to this compound.
  • Scientists believe that the same compound could also be used to alleviate the neurological disorders in humans.
  • Ultimately, the neuron model could successfully demonstrate that these neurological disorders could be reverted and autism spectrum disorders need not be permanent.

This present model can become a wonderful means of diagnosing autism in the future. The complete research article of the neuron model can be found in the 12 November,2010 issue of Journal Cell.

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