Washington: Autism may result from chronic danger signaling by mitochondria, cell structures that supply our cells with energy, a new study has suggested.The study, which presents a novel theory about the cause and potential treatment of autism, is being supported by one of Autism Speaks` first Suzanne and Bob Wright Trailblazer Awards ( Autism Speaks is the world`s leading autism science and advocacy organization).It is being conducted by Trailblazer researcher and mitochondrial medicine specialist Robert Naviaux, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego.Their theory is that a chronic "cell danger response" can interfere with brain development and function. Using a mouse model of autism, the researchers blocked the abnormal cell danger signals using a chemical compound. Doing so reversed the signs and symptoms of autism in the animal`s brains and behavior.In 2010, Autism Speaks awarded Dr. Naviaux a Trailblazer award to test his theory that it might be possible to reverse autism by blocking chronic cell danger signaling.Several years ago, Dr. Naviaux proposed that cell structures, called mitochondria, play a broad role in the development of autism. Mitochondria are best known for providing cells with energy. Dr. Naviaux looked beyond energy production to study the mitochondria`s role in signaling when a cell is damaged or diseased. Under stress, cells release mitochondrial, or "purinergic," chemicals that normally remain inside the cell. When they leak outside a cell, these chemicals signal danger to surrounding cells."In essence, these signals warn other cells to harden their defenses. This helps protect against cell-to-cell infection. However, it may also interfere with cell-to-cell communication. ," Dr. Naviaux explained.
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