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Autism Linked to a Set of Brain Enzymes

A new study has investigated the possible relationship between a set of brain enzymes called topoisomerases and autism. According to researchers, it is possible that topoisomerases are the enzymes that activate the genes that are related to autism. Topoisomerases have been under study because of their ability to help tumor cells replicate rapidly. (Source:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265416.php)

Researcher Mark Zylka and his colleagues said that topoisomerases can be found in all parts of the body and their main function is to free the cells’ DNA, so that they can replicate or reproduce. They postulated that if during the development of the brain, something wrong occurs with the activity of topoisomerases, this might lead to autism.

The researchers made use of mice to check the effect of a drug that inhibits the topoisomerases’ action on the mice’s genes. They found out that forty-nine mice genes reduced their activity upon exposure to the drug. The team said that those are the same genes that are being linked to autism development in humans.

However, Zylka does not suggest that the topoisomerases inhibitors can be used to treat people with autism.  Instead, he wants to do more research, and then create medication that will help enhance the action of topoisomerases.  He added that there are more than 300 genes linked to autism that have already been identified.  The current goal is to identify the relationships of these genes and find out how they complement each other.

Figuring out the interconnectivity among these genes and the biological pathways that links them together is a very complex task, but the work has to continue for the sake of those who are suffering from autism. The latest estimates show that there is one autistic child for every 88 children in the US.

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