The other day Scientific American reported on two studies (Henderson et al., and Berry-Kravis, et al.) that have recently come out that try to target drugs to treat autism by balancing levels of glutamate (Can a Pill Treat Autism, Nov 1, 2012 by Alla Katsnelson). The justification for this is that an imbalance of glutamate is associated with a genetic condition called “Fragile X”, which causes some (but not all) cases of autism.
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I think it’s a very interesting direction, but I can’t help but wonder if it will only assist a small handful of children with autism (which is still a good thing). The causes of many mental disorders are still poorly understood. For example, many people believe that there are many different types of depression with different causes. It’s possible depression is the end result of many different types of pathology. Antidepressant medication, therefore, works for some people (which is a great thing) but not everyone. Could the same issue be present with treating glutamate imbalance in autism?