The causal link to autism has continued to stump physicians and researchers, but Harvard Medical School faculty member and his wife, an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, may have found the answer. Not only have these two have found the answer to the source, but they are working on techniques to prevent and potentially reverse the disorders effects.
The two scientists prepared a report where they discovered certain strains of bacteria in the mother’s digestive tract that may lead to behaviors resembling autism in their offspring, such as repetitive behavior and impaired sociability. In a 2016 study, one scientist found that the regions of the brain responsible for influencing autistic behaviors were afflicted by what she called “patches.” These patches were caused by the effector molecule of a particular type of immune cell, which is released due to inflammation in the mother’s body as it fights off an infection. The effector molecule interacts with receptors in the brain of the fetus, which results in these patches.
These patches lead to an imbalance in the brain and as a result, the individual will exhibit autistic behaviors. Researchers attempted to restore balance to the brain of mice with these patches and found a reverse in behavioral issues. The next step in this research would be to study the effects on the human brain and whether autism could not only be prevented, but reversed.