Journal scan

Fragile X and autism: treatments for hypersensitivity

Potential new research developments to improve sensory stimulation.

Potential new research developments to improve sensory stimulation

Fragile X chromosomes
Picture: SPL

It is recognised that people with fragile X and autism share common needs. In both conditions, for example, individuals can respond too readily to sensory stimulation, in the case of people with fragile X especially, this oversensitivity is due to overexcitement of the neurones. The overstimulation of the neuronal pathways leads to seizures and sensory hypersensitivity.

A protein – mGluR5 – has been found to be in excess in individuals who have excitable neurones. Previous research has been attempted to inhibit overstimulation, but the treatments have failed to manipulate the protein itself. New developments however, have the potential for providing improvements.

Research is now being undertaken which aims to manipulate the module responsible for developing the mGluR5 protein, therefore influencing the production of the protein before it is produced. While this work is occurring, simultaneously another piece of research has identified a link between mGluR5 development and sodium production.

Medications have been used to inhibit the flow of sodium already with some success in the treatment of epilepsy. Researchers are now concerned with discovering if similar medications might be effective in treating people with fragile X and autism, who have sensory hypersensitivity.

Deng P-Y, Klyachko VA (2016) Increased persistent sodium current causes neuronal hyperexcitability in the entorhinal cortex of Fmr1 knockout mice. Cell Reports. 16, 12, 3157-3166.

Compiled by Stacey Atkinson, matron/manager-inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and lead nurse, St Mary’s Hospital, Leeds


This article is for subscribers only