Pharmacological interventions for neurodevelopmental disorders are increasingly tractable. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population. Currently, the standard of care is early behavioral therapy. No approved medical treatments for the diagnostic symptoms are available. Strong evidence for genetic causes of autism implicates proteins that mediate synaptic transmission and structure. Mouse models with targeted mutations in these synaptic genes display behavioral symptoms relevant to the social communication abnormalities and repetitive behaviors that define autism spectrum disorder (ASD), along with biological abnormalities in synaptic physiology and morphology. As we discuss here, promising pharmacological targets, emerging from the mouse model studies, are now being pursued in early clinical trials. Thus, a high-prevalence disorder that was previously considered to be medically untreatable is now moving into the therapeutic arena.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Drug Discovery