Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Agent Reduces Autism-like Behaviors in Mice

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Boosts sociability, quells repetitiveness - NIH study.

National Institutes of Health researchers have reversed behaviors in mice resembling two of the three core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)(

An experimental compound, called GRN-529, increased social interactions and lessened repetitive self-grooming behavior in a strain of mice that normally display such autism-like behaviors, the researchers say.

GRN-529 is a member of a class of agents that inhibit activity of a subtype of receptor protein on brain cells for the chemical messenger glutamate, which are being tested in patients with an autism-related syndrome.

Although mouse brain findings often don't translate to humans, the fact that these compounds are already in clinical trials for an overlapping condition strengthens the case for relevance, according to the researchers.

"Our findings suggest a strategy for developing a single treatment that could target multiple diagnostic symptoms," explained Jacqueline Crawley, Ph.D., of the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Crawley continued, "Many cases of autism are caused by mutations in genes that control an ongoing process - the formation and maturation of synapses, the connections between neurons. If defects in these connections are not hard-wired, the core symptoms of autism may be treatable with medications."

Crawley, Jill Silverman, Ph.D., and colleagues at NIMH and Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, Groton, CT, report on their discovery April 25th, 2012 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"These new results in mice support NIMH-funded research in humans to create treatments for the core symptoms of autism," said NIMH director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "While autism has been often considered only as a disability in need of rehabilitation, we can now address autism as a disorder responding to biomedical treatments."

Crawley's team followed-up on clues ( from earlier findings hinting that inhibitors of the receptor, called mGluR5, might reduce ASD symptoms.

This class of agents - compounds similar to GRN-529, used in the mouse study - are in clinical trials for patients with the most common form of inherited intellectual and developmental disabilities, Fragile X syndrome (, about one third of whom also meet criteria for ASDs.

To test their hunch, the researchers examined effects of GRN-529 in a naturally occurring inbred strain of mice that normally display autism-relevant behaviors.

Like children with ASDs, these BTBR mice interact and communicate relatively less with each other and engage in repetitive behaviors - most typically, spending an inordinate amount of time grooming themselves.

Crawley's team found that BTBR mice injected with GRN-529 showed reduced levels of repetitive self-grooming and spent more time around - and sniffing nose-to-nose with - a strange mouse.

Moreover, GRN-529 almost completely stopped repetitive jumping in another strain of mice.

"These inbred strains of mice are similar, behaviorally, to individuals with autism for whom the responsible genetic factors are unknown, which accounts for about three fourths of people with the disorders," noted Crawley. "Given the high costs - monetary and emotional - to families, schools, and health care systems, we are hopeful that this line of studies may help meet the need for medications that treat core symptoms."

The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

NIH Funding Targets Gaps in Biomedical Research
New awards support emerging issues in cutting-edge biomedical research fields.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
NIH Framework Points The Way Forward For Developing The President’s Precision Medicine Initiative
The NIH Advisory Committee to the Director has presented to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a detailed design framework for building a national research participant group, called a cohort, of 1 million or more Americans to expand our knowledge and practice of precision medicine.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Beth Israel Cardiology Team Awarded $3 Million by NIH
Work will help predict outcomes in patients with heart disease.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Novel Mechanism to Explain Autoimmune Uveitis Proposed
A new study on mice suggests that bacteria in the gut may provide a kind of training ground for immune cells to attack the eye.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Nuclear Process in the Brain That May Affect Disease Uncovered
Scientists have shown that the passage of molecules through the nucleus of a star-shaped brain cell, called an astrocyte, may play a critical role in health and disease.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Scientists Uncover Nuclear Process in the Brain that May Affect Disease
NIH-funded study highlights the possible role of glial brain cells in neurological disorders.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
PINK1 Protein Crucial for Removing Broken-Down Energy Reactors
NIH study suggests potential new pathway to target for treating ALS and other diseases.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Tell-tale Biomarker Detects Early Breast Cancer in NIH-funded Study
The study published online in the issue of Nature Communications.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Researchers Identify Protein in Mice that Helps Prepare for Healthy Egg-sperm Union
Protein RGS2 plays a critical role in preserving the fertilizability of the ovulated egg.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Protein Related to Long Term Traumatic Brain Injury Complications Discovered
NIH-study shows protein found at higher levels in military members who have suffered multiple TBIs.
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Crystal Clear Images Uncover Secrets of Hormone Receptors
NIH researchers gain better understanding of how neuropeptide hormones trigger chemical reactions in cells.
Monday, August 03, 2015
Vital Protein in Healthy Fertilization Process Identified
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered a protein that plays a vital role in healthy egg-sperm union in mice.
Monday, July 27, 2015
NIH Joins Public-Private Partnership to Fund Research on Autism Biomarkers
Biomarkers Consortium project to improve tools for measuring and treating social impairment in children with autism.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Mystery of the Tubulin Code Unravelled
NIH study provides a glimpse into the code that controls variety of cell functions.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Mouse Study Reveals Potential Clue to Extra Fingers or Toes
NIH-funded study finds that gene appears to regulate protein signals inside the cell.
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Scientific News
Key to Natural Detoxifier’s Reactivity Discovered
Results have implications for health, drug design and chemical synthesis.
New Protein Found in Immune Cells
Immunobiologists from the University of Freiburg discover Kidins220/ARMS in B cells and demonstrate its functions.
Cell's Waste Disposal System Regulates Body Clock Proteins
New way to identify interacting proteins could identify potential drug targets.
How a Molecular Motor Untangles Protein
Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and prion diseases, all involve “tangled” proteins.
Compound Doubles Up On Cancer Detection
Researchers have found that tagging a pair of markers found almost exclusively on a common brain cancer yields a cancer signal that is both more obvious and more specific to cancer.
How Cell Growth Triggers Cell Division
Researchers in Jan Skotheim's lab have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that controls how large cells grow, an insight that could one day provide insight into attacking diseases such as cancer.
Probing the Forces Involved in Creating The Mitotic Spindle
Scientists at The Rockefeller University reveal new insights into the mechanical forces that govern elements of the mitotic spindle formation.
Identifying Cancer’s Food Sensors May Help to Halt Tumour Growth
Oxford University researchers have identified a protein used by tumours to help them detect food supplies. Initial studies show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells’ ability to grow.
Specific Variations in RNA Splicing Linked to Breast Cancer
Researchers have identified cellular changes that may play a role in converting normal breast cells into tumors. Targeting these changes could potentially lead to therapies for some forms of breast cancer.
Thousands of Protein Interactions Identified
Thanks to the work by Utrecht University researcher Fan Liu and her colleagues, it is now possible to map the interactions between proteins in human cells.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos