RT News 1/30/16
New immune study key to cause and cure of autism
In a new experimental study, New York University scientists believe they discovered that special immune cells triggered by viral infections during pregnancy may cause autism in the brains of babies. And by blocking these cells a cure is possible.
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To test the “autistic” role of specifically identified immune cells (Th17 and IL-17a), the scientists triggered their production by mimicking a viral invasion in pregnant mice. They then monitored the mouse babies and assessed whether they showed behavioral abnormalities.
Mice exposed to higher immune cell (IL-17a) levels demonstrated autism-like symptoms when they were born.
However, blocking the action of these cells in the mice completely restored normal structure and function to the brains.
According to Dr. Harold Levinson, a connection between mothers catching a viral infection during pregnancy and the risk of their child developing autism was found in previous studies. But the specific mechanisms behind this correlation remained unknown until this breakthrough study was completed. Unfortunately it will take years to test these findings in mothers followed after sustaining viral infections.
It must also be recognized that ASD is most probably determined by diverse causes. However, this study’s insights provide a giant leap forward towards solving this complex disorder.
About Dr. Harold Levinson
Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Long Island, New York. He is a well-known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. For more information, call 1(800)334-7323 or
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