Breakthrough: $3 Epilepsy Drug 'Switches Off' Autism Symptoms

Revolutionary Breakthrough: $3 Epilepsy Drug ‘Switches Off’ Autism Symptoms

/ 08:03 AM February 17, 2023

Another significant breakthrough discovery is on the rise. Scientists reported a $3 pill epilepsy drug that can “switch off” symptoms of autism.

A developmental condition, autism spectrum disorder affects almost 5.4 million in the US, an estimated 1 in every 44 children and 2.2% of are adults, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Specific abnormalities such as hyperactivity or epilepsy are present in the disorder. Although scientists were uncertain of its causes, they ruled out that it is likely a mixture of nongenetic and genetic factors.


Furthermore, a new study published Tuesday in Molecular Psychiatry shows promising results. A research team at Germany’s Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research found that a cheap drug, Lamotrigine, can suppress social and behavioral problems associated with the disorder.

Lamotrigine, whose brand name is Lamictal, is a drug that costs $3 per pill. The medication is an anti-seizure drug that FDA first approved in 1994. It functions by altering changes to brain cells that genetic mutation produces.

Previous research showed that autism is more common in individuals who carry mutations that “switch off” the protein MYT1L. Now, the recent study proves to be the closest progress.

Moritz Mall, the lead researcher, said, “Apparently, drug treatment in adulthood can alleviate brain cell dysfunction and thus counteract the behavioral abnormalities typical of autism.”

The cellular biologist also added, “[This occurs] even after the absence of MYT1L has already impaired brain development during the developmental phase of the organism.”


MYT1L role in autism development

Moreover, scientists have been studying for years in search of the molecular irregularities that cause autism. They found that MYT1L is a protein that plays a vital role in different neurological diseases.

Most nerve cells produce the protein, which is a transcription factor. These cells in the body choose which genes are active and inactive in the cell.

In addition, MYT1L also “protects the identity of nerve cells by suppressing other developmental pathways that program a cell towards muscle or connective tissue.”

Researchers at the Hector Institute tested the impact of the protein on ASD symptoms. The team “switched off” MYT1L in mice and nerve cells of humans.

Results showed that doing such activates electrophysiological hyperactivation in the mouse and human nerves. It led to impairing nerve activity.

In addition, the mice that lack MYT1L suffered from brain irregularities. It also showed several attitude changes similar to autism, like hyperactivity and social problems.

According to the researchers, the most “striking” result was their discovery of MYT1L reactions. The neurons lacking MYT1L produced more sodium channels that are generally prohibited to heart muscle cells.

MYT1L are proteins vital for electrical and cell functions. They allow sodium ions to pass through cell membranes. Whereas nerve cells that produce more sodium channels could end in electrophysiological hyperactivation. It is the most common symptom of ASD.

According to the New York Post, an additional statement said, “When MYT1L-deficient nerve cells were treated with Lamotrigine, their electrophysiological activity returned to normal. In mice, the drug could curb ASD-associated behaviors such as hyperactivity.”

However, the results of the study are only tested on mice. Lamotrigine will not surely work on humans to curb autism symptoms. Scientists still need further investigation to ensure its effectiveness on humans.

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TAGS: autism, Reseach study, Trending
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