Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Low doses of a weight-loss drug could reverse many of the autismlike symptoms of a condition calledfragile X syndrome, new study in mice suggests.
The drug, called rimonabant, blocks receptors that are activated by marijuana in the brain. Mice treated with the drug in the study showed improved memory and reduced seizures, and more normal sensitivity to pain, compared with mice not treated with the drug.
It's not clear whether the same improvements could happen in people. Rimonabant, which basically works by creating the opposite effect of "the munchies" (or an increased appetite experienced by some marijuana users), was withdrawn from the market in 2009 because it caused depression and suicidal thoughts in some patients.
However, the drug seems to improve autismlike symptoms at much lower doses than those typically used for weight loss, said study co-author Arnau Busquets Garcia, a neuroscience researcher at theUniversity Pompeu Fabra in Spain.
"It could be an interesting therapy approach in humans, but I think there is a lot of work to do to confirm this," Busquets Garcia said.