Saturday, October 31, 2015

Genetic variation explains why potential autism treatment doesn'talways work

A newly identified genetic variation may explain why a promising autism treatment therapy — oxytocin nasal spray — doesn’t work for everyone. In research published today in Translational Psychiatry, scientists from the University of British Columbia and the University of Freiburg pinpointed a genetic variant that is associated with sensitivity to oxytocin. Often dubbed the "love hormone," oxytocin has been shown in previous studies to boost people’s social abilities when administered in a nasal spray, but the results have been inconsistent. To find out why, the scientists tested 203 college-aged men on an emotion-recognition task, giving each of them a placebo and oxytocin nasal spray in separate testing sessions. "We found a genetic marker that predicted how much people responded to the spray," said lead author Frances Chen, assistant professor of psychology at UBC. "Some people responded by becoming significantly faster at detecting emotions. Other people didn’t really react, and some people actually responded by getting a little bit slower."

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