In what may be a breakthrough, a low-cost epilepsy medication has successfully treated autism in mice for the first time ever!
The drug lamotrigine, sold under the brand name Lamictal, proved successful in reducing the disorder’s behavioral and social issues.
The $3 per pill medication is believed to function by undoing modifications to brain cells brought on by genetic mutations.
According to earlier research, those with mutations that ‘turn off’ the MYT1L gene are more likely to have autism.
The study‘s lead author, Dr. Moritz Mall, explains that: “Apparently, drug treatment during adulthood can alleviate brain cell dysfunction and therefore counteract the behavioral abnormalities typical of autism. However, the results are limited to studies in mice; clinical studies in patients with several disorders from the ASD spectrum haven’t yet been conducted. The first clinical studies are in the early planning phase.”
Even while they’re aware that a mix of hereditary and non-genetic variables is likely to be responsible for autism, scientists are still unsure of its exact cause.
There is probably no cure-all therapy because the severity of the condition varies widely across the spectrum.
The protein MYT1L controls which genes are activated and which are not in the cells, safeguarding the nerve cells’ molecular identity.
Previous studies suggested that elements affecting the nerve cells’ molecular program may have a role in the autism emergence.
With that being said, in the most recent study, scientists turned off MYT1L in mouse and human nerve cells.
In mice missing the protein, they discovered different anomalies in the brain, such as a thinner cerebral cortex.
The lab mice also displayed a variety of autistic traits, such as hyperactivity and social impairment.
Lamotrigine blocks sodium channels inside the body, which then stops the release of neurotransmitters that would otherwise cause seizures when trying to use them to combat seizures.
In the US, the medication was administered to around two million patients in 2020.
It is believed to also partially block sodium channels in autism, letting the proper amount of sodium pass through.
The study’s findings are only relevant to mice for the time being, so it needs to be stressed that the medicine may not treat autism in people the same way.