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Press Release
Boosting natural marijuana-like brain chemicals treats fragile X syndrome symptoms
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DNA image Courtesy of Shutterstock

American and European scientists have found that increasing natural marijuana-like chemicals in the brain can help correct behavioral issues related to fragile X syndrome, the most common known genetic cause of autism.

The work indicates potential treatments for anxiety and cognitive defects in people with this condition. Results appear online in Nature Communications.

Daniele Piomelli of UC Irvine and Olivier Manzoni of INSERM, the French national research agency, led the study, which identified compounds that inhibit enzymes blocking endocannabinoid transmitters called 2-AG in the striatum and cortex regions of the brain.

These transmitters allow for the efficient transport of electrical signals at synapses, structures through which information passes between neurons. In fragile X syndrome, regional synapse communication is severely limited, giving rise to certain cognitive and behavioral problems.

Fragile X syndrome is caused by a mutation of the FMR1 gene on the X chromosome. People born with it are mentally disabled; generally experience crawling, walking and language delays; tend to avoid eye contact; may be hyperactive or impulsive; and have such notable physical characteristics as an elongated face, flat feet and large ears.

The researchers stress that their findings, while promising, do not point to a cure for the condition.

"What we hope is to one day increase the ability of people with fragile X syndrome to socialize and engage in normal cognitive functions," said Piomelli, a UCI professor of anatomy & neurobiology and the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in the Neurosciences.

The study involved mice genetically altered with FMR1 mutations that exhibited symptoms of fragile X syndrome. Treated with novel compounds that correct 2-AG protein signaling in brain cells, these mice showed dramatic behavioral improvements in maze tests measuring anxiety and open-space acceptance.

While other work has focused on pharmacological treatments for behavioral issues associated with fragile X syndrome, Piomelli noted that this is the first to identify the role endocannabinoids play in the neurobiology of the condition.


University of California - Irvine:

Thanks to University of California - Irvine for this article.

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Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 11:08 pm CDT

YES, finally its time... i have autistic spectrum and i have incorrect behaviors that cannot be fixed unless you tell  yourself 24/7 and behaviors and thought process that is incorrect that you will never even know is incorrect. Ive tried marijuana before and the first time ive tried it ive done some self explaining to myself that was very different and i didnt know why. after marijuana using marijuana several times which i find relaxing if not used too much at once, i started realizing the difference in thought process and realizing the off things that i do and it got to the point where i actually started figuring out my problems with cannabis and i cant believe the correction in thought process when using this significant plant. there was never a cure for autism but this is the CLOSEST to it. i have a lot more things to say about this but it would take too long to write but all i have to say is this is THE best medication for personality disorders and autistic behaviors and correction to the thought process of such.

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