Brain protein mutation linked to autism: Research
WELLINGTON (AFP) - Researchers said on Thursday that they had discovered a genetic mutation in people with autism that cuts communication between brain cells to about one-tenth of normal levels.
The study found a protein which helps brain cells transfer data through neurological pathways called synapses was mutated in autism sufferers, offering a likely explanation for their cognitive and behavioural difficulties.
Principal investigator Johanna Montgomery, from Auckland University's Centre for Brain Research, said the mutated protein, called Shank3, provided exciting possibilities in the search for autism treatments.
"(A treatment) is years away," she told AFP. "But we now know how it works, we know what goes wrong, so let's try to figure out a way to fix it.