NASET News Alert

Autism: How a Gene Alteration Modifies Social Behavior

August 14, 2020

A team of researchers at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has discovered a new connection between a genetic alteration and social difficulties related to autism: A mutation in the neuroligin-3 gene reduces the effect of the hormone oxytocin. In the journal Nature, the researchers report on a treatment approach that could normalize social behavior in autism. They have already achieved promising results in an animal model. Autism occurs in about one percent of the population and is characterized by alterations in communication, repetitive behavior and social difficulties. There are numerous genetic factors involved in the development of autism. Hundreds of different genes have been identified, including the gene encoding the synaptic adhesion molecule neuroligin-3. The mechanisms by which this large variety of genetic alterations is related to the symptoms of autism are still largely unknown and is one of the major challenges in the development of new treatments. Read More