VIENNA, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — An international research team based at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) in Austria have discovered both a cause and treatment for certain autism spectrum disorders, Austria Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The team, led by Gaia Novarino from the IST, found that a large neutral amino acid transporter known as SLC7A5 that is essential in maintaining normal levels of branched-chain amino acids in the brain was found to have shown mutations in several patients with autistic traits.
It was further discovered in testing on mice that the deletion of SLC7A5 led to an irregular amino acid profile in the brain and severe neurological abnormalities.
When the researchers administered branched-chain amino acids directly to the brain, they discovered an improvement in the abnormal behaviors of the mice with an autism profile.
The team said its data showed SLC7A5 mutations as being linked to a neurological syndrome, and that branched-chain amino acids have an essential role in human brain function.
Following further research, it said a cure for a certain group of autism patients could be found in the future.