Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported reversing the symptoms of mental retardation and autism in genetically-altered mice. This researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory manipulated the mice to model Fragile X Syndrome and then inhibited the activities of enzymes in the mice's brain chemistry. The study was due to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in late June, according to this story from the MIT News Office.
Fragile X is the most common inherited form of mental impairment and the most common known cause of autism, according to this background information at The National Fragile X Foundation website.
The researchers say that in the future, they hope scientists can replicate what they have found and find ways to help children. "Our study suggests that inhibiting a certain enzyme in the brain could be an effective therapy for countering the debilitating symptoms of FXS in children, and possibly in autistic kids as well," study co-author Mansuo L. Hayashi told the MIT News Office. Hayahi is a former Picower Institute postdoctoral fellow currently at Merck Research Laboratories in Boston.