Neuroscientists reported on Thursday that, at least in lab mice, a drug that restores the healthy "synaptic pruning" that normally occurs during brain development also reverses autistic-like behaviors such as avoiding social interaction.
"We were able to treat mice after the disease had appeared," neurobiologist David Sulzer of Columbia University Medical Center, who led the study published in the journal Neuron, said in a telephone interview. ..
Even if the findings are confirmed - and Sulzer notes that treatments that work in lab animals often fail in people - it is unlikely that rapamycin would be used in people with autism: Its wide-scale immune-suppressing effects would likely cause serious side effects.
"But there could be better drugs," Sulzer said, such as a molecule that dials up production of synapse-pruning proteins.