Fragile X syndrome in children is characterized by learning and cognitive impairments and usually falls under the category of Sensory Processing Disorder (or SPD). It can leave kids mentally handicapped, but new research will provide parents with hope for their kids. According to a study done by the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, a medicine that helps regulate cyclic adenosine monophosphate (or cAMP) might help reduce or eliminate symptoms of SPD.
More than 90 percent of those on the autism spectrum will experience symptoms of SPD. This can leave patients with more or less sensitivity to sights, sounds, textures, and tastes. Patients will usually become uncomfortable or experience increased levels of agitation and anxiety.
Fragile X occurs when the corresponding mental retardation protein (FMRP) is deficient because of a gene mutation. This mutation leads to a variety of problems–obstacles that kids and their parents must learn to navigate around. In the study, scientists used fruit flies to find out whether or not pharmacological options might pose a solution. The mutated fruit flies experienced an improved response time versus normal flies.
The medicines that might eventually be used to help those with fragile X syndrome are well known among the medical community. Dipyridamole is typically used to help relieve patients who have blood clots, and lithium is a controversial yet powerful drug used to combat bipolar disorder or extreme depression. Lithium can also be used in conjunction with a number of other drugs to treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders. That these drugs might also help those with SPD was previously unknown.
Because there are a number of genes linked to the autism spectrum and SPD in general, a lot of research focuses on how to manage symptoms instead of how to eliminate them altogether. Right now researchers would like to conduct human trials to see how fragile X patients respond to drugs that regulate cAMP signaling.
October was Sensory Awareness Month, so this ray of light couldn’t have come at a better time. This is a great time to raise awareness for those suffering from SPD or similar behavioral and developmental disorders through outreach, fundraising, donation, and personal involvement.