a cure may be sooner than we think

24 Apr

Research by scientists at The George Washington University School of Medicine suggests that the effects of autism my be reversible.  Basically, we have microRNA’s that regulate the expression of certain genes.  Scientists have found that microRNA profiles for brain function are differentially expressed in the autistic samples, showing differences in the expression of genes highly involved in neurological functions in addition to those involved in gastrointestinal diseases, circadian rhythm signaling, and hormone metabolism.  Since microRNA expression can be changed using complimentary “anti-sense” RNA, they think they may be able to engineer it to “fix” the gene expression that is abnormal in autistic people.  This article explains it a little better than I do.

This is interesting news.  It finally shows that may be a real connection between autism and  stomach and sleep problems.  It still doesn’t tell us why autism occurs, but it shows us where it occurs in the brain, which is very exciting.  It may also allow us to have a physiological test for autism instead of guesswork.  I would be very interested to see what the differences are between people with Asperger’s and people with classical autism.

There’s no doubt that if a therapy is developed from this research it could change the lives of severely disabled people.  There’s also no doubt that I find this research scientifically intriguing.  But, it brings up the same question I seem to go on about all the time.  Would curing a person’s autism also irrevocably change their personality?  What about the advantages of having AS like intense focus, unusual analytical skills, or eidetic memory?  Would those things be lost along with the unsavory symptoms?

I just don’t know.  But I do know that I like myself the way I am.


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