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Breakthrough Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder Within Reach: Scientists Discover Key Clue

In research that could lead to a fundamental treatment of autism spectrum disorder, scientists have identified the cell-specific molecular network of the developmental disability.

Scientists in South Korea have succeeded in identifying the cell-specific molecular network of autism spectrum disorder. It is expected to lay the foundation for treating autism spectrum disorder. Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the research was conducted by Professor Kim Min-sik’s team of researchers at the Department of New Biology, DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology).

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that is known to occur from early childhood. It is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by continuous impairment of social communication and interaction-related behaviors leading to limited ranges of behavioral patterns, interests, and activities, as well as repetitive behaviors.

Most autism spectrum disorder patients have behavioral disorders, sometimes accompanied by other developmental disabilities. Because there is currently no accurate molecular diagnosis method, early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is made at a fairly late period. Although there has been some success in improving symptoms with behavioral management therapy, there is a lack of effective treatments at the molecular level.

Professor Kim Min-sik’s team utilized the Cntnap2 defect model, a spectral disorder mouse model established by Professor Lee Yong-Seok’s team at Seoul National University College of Medicine to extract prefrontal cortex tissue and performed mass spectrometry-based integrated quantitative proteomic and metabolomic analysis. In addition, by comparing and analyzing this with previously reported big data of autism spectrum disorder patients, the team confirmed that problems occur in networks such as metabolism and synapses in excitable neurons.

Professor Kim Min-sik of the Department of New Biology said, “The multi-omics integrated analysis technology developed through this study has advanced the pathological understanding of autism spectrum disorder and made it possible to discover an integrated network ranging from molecular-level cell differentiation induced by a specific autism gene to biometric information,“ and added, “We are trying to find the core network of autism spectrum disorder and discover treatment targets by conducting an integrated analysis of various models.”

Reference: “Cntnap2-dependent molecular networks in autism spectrum disorder revealed through an integrative multi-omics analysis” by Wooyoung Eric Jang, Ji Hwan Park, Gaeun Park, Geul Bang, Chan Hyun Na, Jin Young Kim, Kwang-Youl Kim, Kwang Pyo Kim, Chan Young Shin, Joon-Yong An, Yong-Seok Lee and Min-Sik Kim, 17 October 2022, Molecular Psychiatry.
DOI: 10.1038/s41380-022-01822-1

This research was carried out with support from the Brain Science Source Technology Development Project of the Ministry of Science and ICT.

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