NARSAD Grant-Funded Research Identifies New Target to Treat Autism

Olivier Manzoni, Ph.D., Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in France, autism expert
Olivier Manzoni, Ph.D.

Olivier Manzoni, Ph.D., of INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale) in France, used his NARSAD Independent Investigator Grant to help find a new therapeutic strategy to combat the brain deficits caused by Fragile X Syndrome (FXS).

FXS is the most common known genetic cause of autism. Although many research studies have demonstrated that inhibitory neurotransmission is abnormal in the Fragile X brain, the studies of inhibitory circuits have had conflicting results. Recently, researchers have begun studying the inhibitory circuits regulated by the endocannabinoid system which consist of compounds that are created naturally in the body and share a similar chemical structure with THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.

In their paper published online September 25th in Nature Communications, Dr. Manzoni and his colleagues demonstrated in a mouse model that many of the cognitive and behavioral effects of Fragile X caused by disruptions in the endocannabinoid system could be corrected by increasing the natural marijuana-like chemicals in the brain.

"Our study opens an entirely new avenue for treatment," Dr. Manzoni said. "This research corresponds to the project for which I received my NARSAD Grant in 2010 and could not have been done without the generous support and trust of the Foundation."

Read More about Dr. Manzoni's work into Fragile X Syndrome