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New Autism Marker Sheds Light on Link to Epilepsy

The discovery could lead to a new method for treating epilepsy in children with autism by injecting a protein into their spinal fluid.

Roughly 30-50% of autistic children also have epilepsy. According to a recent SciTechDaily article, a team of researchers at Northwestern Medicine discovered a new autism marker that could explain the correlation, and lead to new treatment options. The marker is an important brain protein that calms overactive brain cells, and it is abnormally low in children with autism. The marker, CNTNAP2 (aka “catnap2”), is produced when brain cells become too active.

Autistic kids with low levels of catnap2 aren’t able to calm their brain cells, which can lead to seizures. The team at Northwestern believes they can treat epilepsy in autistic children by injecting the missing catnap2 directly into their spinal fluid. The lab is conducting preclinical research to develop the technique. 

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