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Autism-modifying therapy based on the promotion of a brain enzyme: An introductory case-report

1 LIMSI-CNRS, rue John Von Neumann, Université d'Orsay – Bât. 508, 91403 Orsay Cedex, France
2 CRIIGEN, 40 rue Monceau, Paris 8ème, France

Special Issues: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapy of Autism Spectrum Disorders

An interdisciplinary study of autism led to implicate the relatively poor degradation of synaptic serotonin, a molecule involved in brain development. Consequent metabolic imbalance ofmonoamine neurotransmitters is assumed to impede memory encoding across sleep stages, hence the building of aberrant neural structures linked with autistic symptoms. A medication can be derived from this theoretical approach, with the aim of regulating neuromodulation whereby proper neural networks may start growing over impaired ones. The Valproate anticonvulsant has been prescribed here for its contribution to the promotion of a relevant brain enzyme known as Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). Whereas case-studies usually focus on a subset of symptoms for less than three months in mild to moderate autism, the evolution of every autistic symptom has been witnessed across one year in an 11-year boy with severe autism. Rapid improvement of sleep, followed by the rising of visual exploration, preceded positive shifts of the core symptoms noticeable nine months later, however still impeded by bursts of hyperactivity. The adjunctive medication of Methylphenidate psychostimulant permitted afterwards to increase the attention span without interfering with Valproate. Such combination of MAOA-inducer and psychostimulant eventually favored the gradual acquisition of social conditioning, without fully erasing poor habits issued from ten years of autism. Because restricted to a disease-modifying action, this dual therapy relies on accompanying educational assistance, as notably learnt from its exploratory monitoring. Other insights focus on specific biomarkers as well as functional polymorphisms of relevant genes promoters, with the aim of guiding future clinical trials.
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