Learning About Autism: Links to Dopamine Distributor Inhibition Found

Autism is a disorder that has been shown to be increasing in children in the US. It is hard to pinpoint exact causes or determining factors for children who have autism and to what degree autism will present. Current concerns and conversations typically revolve around the impact of vaccines on autism development. Still, there are other factors that are constantly being discovered.

Recent studies have shown two genetic variations to have converged and now cause the same changes in both nerve function and behavior. This is new to the properties of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, compared to what scientists have previously seen occur.

Search is on for Dopamine-Disrupting Molecule Network

child with autismThe study that discovered this, at Vanderbilt University, is leading to the effort to create a mouse model to reinforce these findings and allow further exploration. The search is on for a network of molecules that disrupt the neuro-transmission of dopamine. This is not typical, as it requires the network to converge with the same mechanism while disrupting the dopamine in different ways.

Dopamine is typically involved in reward behaviors, like a change in appetite, social behaviors and even the onset of an addiction. Usually, a dopamine transporter grabs up any excess dopamine near the synapse. However, in the case of a child with autism, the transporter actually works in reverse, causing more dopamine to pile up in the synapse. In the two families where the case has been found where the transporter is acting contrary to its normal behavior, variations have been found both in the transporter gene and in the genes for a protein that regulates the dopamine transporter.

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Scientists Compare Locomotion to Dopamine Use in Body

Scientists say the reward behaviors that are connected to dopamine do not move forward without the dopamine, similar to when locomotion is required to do many things, like obtain food or move in any direction. Commonly a lack of dopamine or anatomy locomotion can be found in those who use their vehicles often, those in a marketing career or worst yet vehicle marketing.

With this study, scientists can begin determine the reasoning these two ASD genetics are having the same effects. Hopefully from this basis, further understanding can come and possibly a determination of more factors that result in autism diagnoses.

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Has There Been a Breakthrough in HIV Studies?

Scientists have found a characteristic of HIV that they hope can lead to advances in the efforts to cure HIV. According to researchers at Rockefeller University, the HIV virus has hidden reserves that lie dormant within white blood cells, possibly for years. This prevents the effective treatment of the disease.

White Cells Contain HIV Genes and Replicate

hiv virusThese white cells continue to replicate over time, which means they all carry the HIV genes and keep it alive and well within the sufferer’s body. Scientists believe this behavior is the same with certain cells that are long-term and help the body’s immune system remember certain pathogens. This would account for the fact that a patient can take drugs for decades and then still have AIDS inflict them if they choose to quit taking the preventative drug cocktails prescribed for HIV infections.

With the human genome’s size, the HIV virus was unlikely to insert itself in the same location on the code each time. However, when studied, it showed that the virus tended to be the same when found in insertions in various cloned cells and could not produce more of the virus. Instead, the virus inserts itself in a few key unique locations. Those instances were able to replicate the virus. Therefore, those instances need to be the focus of future medical efforts to contain and eliminate the virus.

Hope Remains Alive that HIV can be Cured

This discovery tells scientists a lot about the virus’s current ability to evade containment and completely be cured. Still, with the new details on HIV’s ability to insert itself into unique locations, there may be a way to create a new approach to treating the virus. This is good news, especially for those countries where HIV is still a top cause of death. Finding a solution to this particular method of the virus inserting itself means a big step toward the eventual eradication of the disease. This could mean great things in the world of medicine in the next few years. For now, it keeps the hope alive that the end of the terrorization by HIV is just over the horizon.

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Mice May Lead Scientists to New Information on BiPolar Disorder and ADHD

Studies for the why behind many human behaviors begin with a study involving mice. In this case, yet again a study with a mouse has led to some new developments in dopamine research and the impact of dopamine on mouse behaviors.

Mouse Behavior Leads Dopamine Studies in New Direction

A human genetic variation that affects the behavior of DAT, a protein that regulates the transmitter that removes excess dopamine, was recently injected into a mouse. That mouse began to exhibit darting behavior. Contrarily, however, the mouse does not exhibit hyperactive behavior.

Scientists believe this is because, while the transmitter sends excess dopamine back into the synapse thanks to the genetic variation, it still may pick up a certain amount of dopamine and that helps cut down on hyperactivity. This could mean a better understanding of causes for BiPolar Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in humans. This then could lead to more effective treatment for these individuals.

medical lab rat

Scientists See Indication Innate Impulses More in Control Of Mice

For scientists, the fact that behavior like hyperactivity or the decrease in the behavior of standing on hind legs to explore the cage – which is common for mice – means that the mice are more controlled by their innate impulses rather than the search for clues to appropriate behavior.

In humans, this type of behavior will be further tested with another level of tests that highlight impulsive behaviors. Scientists plan to begin this level of testing and hope to determine whether the effectiveness of Adderall and Ritalin are due to their effects on excess dopamine in the systems of children with ADHD.

A scientist who has been on the forefront of these studies with mice that exhibit darting behavior has received a grant to further study this genetic variation. Dr. Randy Blakely of Vanderbilt University has received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health to advance this study. Blakely hopes his research will help many people who deal with ADHD on a regular basis and have limited or no benefits from drugs like Ritalin.

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