Research: “Genetic Animal Models for Autism Spectrum Disorder”

Recent advances in research indicate that the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has a strong genetic component. Being able to identify the specific genetic makeup for ASD would allow for better understanding of the disorder and for the development of new treatments. However, ASD remains an extremely complex disorder with more than just one gene related to it. The present review by researchers at Ulm University focuses on the use of mutant mice as animal models in research to find out how genes identified in individuals with ASD affect neurobiological mechanisms and behavior. The mouse model is specifically effective because it can be easily genetically mutated and presents a behavioral phenotype very similar to that of humans. Due to advances in technology, several successful animal models have already been established for known genetic causes of ASD. Successful identification replication studies include Fmr1 mutant mice for FXS, Tcs1 and Tcs2 mutant mice for TSC, and Shank 2 and Shank 3 mutant mice exhibiting autistic-like behaviors and neurobiological phenotypes.

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