Harvard Mental Health Letter

Rare diseases offer insights into autism spectrum disorders

Preliminary laboratory studies suggest new biological targets for intervention.

At the November 2008 annual symposium of the Autism Consortium — a research collaboration of 14 institutions in Boston — several speakers discussed progress in a promising avenue of basic research: using rare single-gene disorders to better understand the brain basis of autism spectrum disorders.

Although the research is still preliminary, the studies suggest that — at least in mice or fruit flies — it is possible to reverse the molecular abnormalities caused by certain genetic mutations, thereby alleviating or even eliminating particular symptoms.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »