EVMS Logo Patients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may often develop social impairment that has a significant impact on quality of life. According to EVMS experts, the drug D-Cycloserine can be a novel treatment strategy for treating social impairment among ASD patients. Already known to treat tuberculosis, the medication also seems to be useful for changing social behavior.

In order to conduct the research, mouse strain BALB/c was introduced to mice. BALB/c mouse probably is a valid animal model of limited sociability observed in ASD patients. In the presence of another mouse, BALB/c mice apparently moved as far away as possible and did not interact like normal. This behavior appears quite similar to individuals with autism that many a times avoid making social contact with other people. Scientists focused on determining whether a present day drug can alter the function of certain receptors in the brain. These receptors are known to affect sociability and help the animals be more at ease around others.

Stephen I. Deutsch, MD, PhD, the Ann Robinson Chair and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, added, “Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders are either disinterested in social interactions or find them unpleasant. They often don’t understand what other people are thinking or feeling and misinterpret social cues. Sadly, persons with autism spectrum disorders are often painfully aware of their limited sociability, which can lead to profound feelings of sadness and frustration.”

As the Balb/c mouse was provided with the tuberculosis medication, it possibly behaved like a normal mouse on placing near another. Therefore, investigations assert that D-Cycloserine can resolve the Balb/c mouse’s deficits of sociability. The drug supposedly eases impaired sociability of persons with autism, like avoiding eye contact and personal interaction. The research findings can possibly aid in modifying social behavior among ASD patients.

The research will be presented at EVMS’ Quarterly Autism Education Series on December 14.