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Mice Cured of Autism

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the of-mice-and-men dept.

Biotech 233

noahisaac writes "My brother just sent me an article he posted for the Rett Syndrome Research Foundation about a cure for Rett Syndrome, a form of autism. According to the article, researchers successfully re-introduced a fully functional version of the MECP2 gene into mice that had been born with damaged MECP2 genes. Contrary to their expectations, the mice improved. In the article's words, 'restoration of fully functional MECP2 over a four week period eradicated tremors and normalized breathing, mobility and gait in mice that had previously been fully symptomatic and, in some cases, only days away from death.' The ramifications for people suffering from Rett Syndrome are obvious, but mutations of the MECP2 gene are also believed to be the cause of 'classic' autism, and a number of other neurological disorders."

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it's not a game... (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942666)

The ramifications for people suffering from Rett Syndrome are obvious, but mutations of the MECP2 gene are also believed to be the cause of 'classic' autism, and a number of other neurological disorders."

So they're saying this will cure people of World of Warcraft?

They're working on that (5, Funny)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942964)

Actually, a cure for WOW is in development. You can check it out how the cure is coming along here [diablo3.com]

Re:They're working on that (1)

Schemat1c (464768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943380)

Actually, a cure for WOW is in development. You can check it out how the cure is coming along here [diablo3.com]
I'd rather see a Starcraft II.

Re:They're working on that (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943658)

Talk about a cure worse than the disease...

Time to start investing in potty chairs.

Re:it's not a game... (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943056)

Alas a cure for classic autism will come to late for the likes of Einstein, the world would be a much simpler place had he been cured.

As I understand it (1)

jspoon (585173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943156)

In most cases-only if you use a mouse for your pointing device. Those of us who use trackpads are SOL.

Sorry. In fact, my first reaction to the headline was Mice Cured Who? of Autism, picturing some kind of regimen designed to help human by engaging them with software.

Algernon (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942668)

please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard

Re:Algernon (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942894)

Would you settle for a pep talk from Picard and an IQ bump....?

Re:Algernon (5, Insightful)

sinclair44 (728189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942944)

I'm not quite sure what this comment should be modded, but 'funny' doesn't seem to be it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowers_For_Algernon [wikipedia.org]

Re:Algernon (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943272)

Well theres not a choice for +1 Literary Reference or +1 Nostalgia, so ... You kind of just have to go with it.

It definitely made me want to read that book again. -sigh- Have to go find it now.

Re:Algernon (1)

Nitewing98 (308560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943864)

Oddly enough, I just re-read "Flowers for Algernon." I've been re-reading "The Hugo Winners, Vol 1 & 2" and it's in there, if anyone is looking for it.

Re:Algernon (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944244)

It definitely made me want to read that book again

Just play it with tonight's lecture.

Re:Algernon (2, Insightful)

jhantin (252660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943458)

Alice called -- she wants your next progress report.

This is slashdot, not alt.sysadmin.recovery -- not many people are likely to spot the reference here unless it involves Star Wars or Zero Wing.

Slashdot is doomed (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942680)

If there is a cure for autism - and it's close cousin, aspergers - then most of us on slashdot will get a life.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942772)

And finally get laid! WOO-HOO!

Re:Slashdot is doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942820)

Correct use of the apostrophe is probably doomed as well.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943016)

If there is a cure for autism - and it's close cousin, aspergers - then most of us on slashdot will get a life.

Most people on Slashdot do not have Apserger's. What they have is a nice scapegoat for their own social awkwardness. I'm not socially awkward because I spent my youth with my nose buried in a computer rather than learning how to interact with other people. It's because I have Asperger's! Yeah!

Apserger's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943076)

When the cure Apserger's we will all spell better.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943104)

see also [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:Slashdot is doomed (4, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943132)

Most people on Slashdot do not have Apserger's.
Where's your proof? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (-1)

Toba82 (871257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943480)

Not an extraordinary claim, dumbass.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (0, Redundant)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943822)

WOOOSH!!!

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943182)

And then there are those of us who simply never have been good with people, since long before we got computers.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943256)

Most people on Slashdot do not have Apserger's.
Indeed we don't have Apserger's, we have Asperger's.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943038)

Arrg, people fling that "syndrome" around, lets see the symptoms from Wikipedia...

"a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversation, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements"

Well the empathy thing is common amongst 99% of the population? Don't trust me? Pretend to slip on a busy sidewalk and see how many people stop to see if you're ok.

Ability to form friendships? Newsflash, most people have a couple good friends a bunch of "people I know". How do you measure if you're "good" at making friends? One sided conversations? Hello weblogs. Intense absorption in a special interest? You mean like people who swear up and down about this that and the other thing without the first damn clue?

Point is, I'm talking out of my ass, and so are you. You can't read some paragraph description off a website and pretend to be a doctor. I'd bet out of all of /. maybe less than a dozen people would even qualify for a diagnosis of AS, probably less.

Tom

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943192)

Hmmm... people have offered to help me in the past when I've done somethign like slipped and fell down. Are you sure this isn't more about _you_?

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943580)

Actually my first hand experience is when my brother slipped on ice at a bus stop. People would move out of the way to walk around.

I'm not saying there aren't nice people out there, I'm saying most people will try and not get involved, or their threshold for intervention is very high. For example, the same people that might not help you when you slip, may help if they saw you bleeding on the ground, who knows.

I'm shocked when people hold doors open, which happens enough I suppose, but I've seen my share of "me first" attitudes around too to get a bit miffed.

Point though, people throwing around "Internet MD (tm)" Diagnoses are really annoying. Just because you read a wiki article doesn't make you a doctor.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (2, Informative)

SeekerDarksteel (896422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944206)

You drastically misunderstand what is meant by "lack of empathy." Most people have some degree of empathy. Maybe they won't care about someone they don't know, but when it comes down to their friends and family they care how they are feeling. They care if they are doing well. A person with Asperger's/Autism doesn't just lack empathy for strangers, they lack or have severely dampened empathy for all human beings, including their family and "friends." Empathy also means much more than a willingness to help others in need. It relates to the ability of a person to understand someone else's state of mind, someone else's feelings or beliefs. It is also closely related to something called theory of mind [wikipedia.org] which is, in short, the ability of a person to recognize that other human beings have their own separate minds. For someone deriding others for stating their opinions about Autism/Asperger's without sufficient knowledge, you seem to state your own uninformed viewpoint awfully strongly.

Re:Slashdot is doomed (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943360)

"a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversation, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements"

"Well the empathy thing is common amongst 99% of the population? Don't trust me? Pretend to slip on a busy sidewalk and see how many people stop to see if you're ok."

Where does extreme pessimism fit in? Just because your anecdotal experiences haven't shown you a lot of empathy doesn't mean it isn't there. Your example seems a bit off the definition as far a I understand the definition. Just because someone doesn't stop doesn't mean they don't have empathy. It means that they aren't Samaritans.

I see empathy on Slashdot...but not as often as I would like. While having friendships in an online forum seems to be an oxymoron on some levels...I see some Slashdotters being friendly or at least exchanging friendly banter. The one-sided conversations have a tendency to get modded down and most of us try to avoid that. Intense absorption in a special interest is quite common for those who have very strong feelings on any given topic...politics, environmentalism, hobby, etc. Clumsy movements...physical, emotional, or bowel? Perhaps your citation from Wikipedia might be better substituted with a medical opinion.

I'll agree with your "Arrg" from the point of view that it seems some people look for any excuse to relieve themselves from the personal responsibility of being rectal orifices. I'm alshithead...I at least admit and take responsibility for being an asshole, at times. I much prefer to try and be a gentleman whenever I can. In my case it's not a syndrome as much as it's impatience and frustration with the world and some of its inhabitants.

How much will the treatment cost? (5, Funny)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942682)

How much will the treatment cost Rainman?
"About a hundred dollars."

Re:How much will the treatment cost? (1)

Null Perception (914562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943346)

237 Toothpicks.

Re:How much will the treatment cost? (1)

azuravian (850674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943428)

Sorry, but I can't let this slide. I know I'm just being picky, but it was 246 toothpicks. He counted them in groups of 82. 82, 82, 82... 246. And there were 4 left in the box.

In other news (5, Funny)

rowlingj (118872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942688)

In other news, a nerdy engineer turns into a superb personnel manager after the genes are corrected. The only problem is the manager now has no way of understanding the code and schematics previously thought to be "fully documented".

So this means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942690)

no more mice counting cards in Vegas with their brothers?

"1 for bad, 2 for good..."

Runtime gene patching! (4, Interesting)

jhantin (252660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942698)

So they spliced a stop codon into the middle of the relevant gene to disable it, then delivered an enzyme all the way to cell nuclei (!) to delete what they spliced in. The next step then it seems is then to find or engineer a proper enzyme to patch a naturally occurring gene defect -- they've basically proven that runtime patching of the genome works. Nice.

Misleading title (4, Insightful)

Wuhao (471511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942710)

The rats never had autism -- they had Rett syndrome, which was cured. Why does the poster seem to feel that the results here can be generalized to a similar disorder, when it's not even well understood why it even worked for the first?

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942834)

The rats never had autism -- they had Rett syndrome, which was cured. Why does the poster seem to feel that the results here can be generalized to a similar disorder, when it's not even well understood why it even worked for the first?

Snazy headline? I don't know. This article makes it sound like all "coughing diseases" have been cured, when it's only a vacine for H5N1. This Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, has little to nothing to do with autism in general I'm sure.

What I am sure about is this is why Digg keeps going up relative to Slashdot. This'd be buried as inacurate there.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942902)

Sorry This Slashdot article I meant to say.

Re:Misleading title (1)

paulmer2003 (922657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943134)

Because it will garner attention. I think it would be safe to assume that more people have herd of autism than 'Rett syndrome'.

Re:Misleading title (1)

LittleJimmy (1059296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943398)

Rett Syndrome is a type of autism. RTFA

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943764)

Rett Syndrome is classified by mixing it and several other things, all of which are clearly genetic defects, into the "autism" family. And yet real autism has no provable genetic origin. So how you would apply genetic manipulation to resolve it is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors and wishful thinking and belief. Great. More belief. Just what the world needs.

RETT!=autism. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943950)

Actually Rett syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder, not a form of autism. They are both pervasive developmental disorders, however, Rett syndrome does not fit into the class of Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

They share some sympotomatology... and that's about it.

there is already a cure (-1, Troll)

duckpoopy (585203) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942726)

just stop getting immunized.

Re:there is already a cure (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943002)

Yup, that will work. Then 1 in 3 children will die from smallpox and the rest from other diseases. There won't be anyone left to catch Autism...

Re:there is already a cure (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943084)

Autism is contagious? Oh shit!

Re:there is already a cure (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943194)

just stop getting immunized.
I'm pretty sure the rise in diagnosis of autism correlates with a decline in the number of women smoking while pregnant and a rise in women having children later in life, so we should stop getting immunized AND start smoking more AND have more premarital sex.

Congrats for the good job! (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942728)

Good job! Nice to hear of such groundbreaking discoveries! This made my day!

Girls only (2, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942736)

Men, apparently, need not apply- these specific behaviors are female symptoms mostly. I wonder, though- is this the cause of the difference between heavy metal poisoning causing autism and genetics causing autism?

From TFA: * Rett Syndrome (RTT) is a severe childhood neurological disorder, diagnosed almost exclusively in girls. The most physically disabling of the autism spectrum disorders, RTT strikes at random, affecting an estimated 1 in every 10,000 females.
* First symptoms usually appear between 6 to 18 months of age. Development slows or begins to regress. Children at this stage may exhibit the social withdrawal often seen in autism, or cry inconsolably for months as previously acquired language and motor skills disappear. In classic RTT, this regression is accompanied by the onset of constant, compulsive hand wringing and the loss of all functional hand use. The progression of symptoms varies across the RTT spectrum. Many children become wheelchair bound; those who walk display an abnormal stiff-legged gait.
* As the disease progresses, abnormal voluntary and involuntary movements reflect increasing neurological deficits. The children suffer apraxia, the inability to organize voluntary movement. Parkinson-like tremors are common, as are disordered breathing patterns and problems with chewing and swallowing. Some children require feeding tubes or supplementary oxygen. Abnormal brain wave patterns are present in RTT; a percentage of the children experience seizures.
* The only autism spectrum disorder with a known genetic cause, RTT results from mutations in the gene MECP2. This gene was first discovered by Adrian Bird, Ph.D in 1990. MECP2 regulates the expression of other genes by turning them off at the appropriate time.
* Mutations in MECP2 were identified as the cause of RTT in 1999 in the lab of Huda Zoghbi, M.D. MECP2 mutations are now being seen in some cases of childhood schizophrenia, classic autism and learning disabilities.

Re:Girls only (3, Informative)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943060)

is this the cause of the difference between heavy metal poisoning causing autism and genetics causing autism

It's not been shown that heavy metal poisoning causes autism. Poisoning with lead or mercury can have neurological symptoms that are similar to autism, but removing the heavy metal and flushing it from the body causes rapid improvement in the poisoning patients, while autism has no cure. The mistaken belief that they're the same thing led a lot of parents to stop immunizing, despite every single reproducible study showing no link between the mercury-based compound that used to be found in such immunizations and autism. To wit, autism continues to gradually become more common despite the fact that mercury has now been completely removed from childhood vaccines.

The only statistically significant environmental link found so far to the onset of true autism cases that I've seen was a study that showed that the rollout of cable television appeared to be correlated to a moderate rise in autism in the neighborhoods and time periods of the rollout during the 80's.

Re:Girls only (2, Informative)

swmpthng (1061348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943778)

The reason why it's just girls is because the gene is carried on the X chromosome- therefore, girls can carry a functional copy on the other X chromosome, but most guys (not counting Klinefelter types) don't have that option. Males who inherit the bad X die in infancy. I'm guessing that people figured out their deceased baby boys had the RTT problem via genetic testing. See 'Gender and Rett Syndrome' here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rett_syndrome [wikipedia.org] .

Watch your words (5, Informative)

Raindance (680694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942746)

MECP2 as "the cause" of autism is overblown-- scientists have isolated several genetic areas that are somewhat probable contributors toward developing autism, but
1. Autism is definitely caused by the contributions of many genes;
2. There are various ways autism presents itself- presumably due to varying genetic contributions. Rett Syndrome is (in my understanding) an atypically (genetically) simple form of autism.

Rett!=autism. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943878)

Rett syndrome is not even considered a form of autism. They are both pervasive developmental disorders, but they are not both autistic spectrum disorders. This article is horrendous.

The implications are obvious (5, Funny)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942754)

Self-diagnosed Aspergers sufferers will suddenly find themselves without any excuse for their behavior.

Re:The implications are obvious (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942900)

Damn. And that one was working so good at parties.

Re:The implications are obvious (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943968)

There's always Down's Syndrome - you can walk up to any attractive women and tell her "I want a hug"...

News from Florida (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942774)

Proof you can kill cockroaches and pond scum! Hooray! Anna Nicole Smith is dead. The average IQ of the planet just ticked up by 5 points. Good riddance to poor white trash.

Re:News from Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942880)

Proof you can kill cockroaches and pond scum! Hooray! Anna Nicole Smith is dead. The average IQ of the planet just ticked up by 5 points. Good riddance to poor white trash.

A story about Water Brain Timmy getting cured, and his role model dies, and its marked as off-topic?

Re:News from Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942974)

Happy the restraining order can no longer be enforced?

Hey... (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942788)

...that rocks.

MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943910)

+5 Insightful. Srsly.

Mice cured... (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942862)

Obligatory Douglas Adams:

      And far away in some distant dimension, some pan-dimensional hyperintelligent beings have suddenly become extremely anti-social, developed a limp, and are currently wondering if this search for the ultimate question is worth all the bother...

Jim Sinclair (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942872)

From: http://www.autistics.org/library/dontmourn.html [autistics.org]

Autism isn't something a person has, or a "shell" that a person is trapped inside. There's no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person--and if it were possible, the person you'd have left would not be the same person you started with.

This is important, so take a moment to consider it: Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.

Therefore, when parents say,

        "I wish my child did not have autism,"

what they're really saying is,

        "I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead."

Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.

Re:Jim Sinclair (2, Insightful)

Capitalist1 (127579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943254)

Damn, I wish my kid had been born alive. I know it would be a completely different kid, but, you know, it might have been better for him. // no kids, alive or otherwise.. just making a point

Re:Jim Sinclair (1)

f1055man (951955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943292)

thanks. My post was going to be much sloppier. Autism and Aspergers aren't cancer, it's a way of being and a "cure" is a threat to the identity of autistics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin
http://youtube.com/results?search_query=woman+co w&search=Search

Re:Jim Sinclair (1)

smclean (521851) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943402)

Hey, in my opinion, the difference between "cure" and "undesirable change" or "brainwashing" is purely subjective. If someone comes up and tells you autism has ruined their life, who are you to say that it hasn't? It's all a word game.

Re:Jim Sinclair (3, Interesting)

f1055man (951955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943610)

Before I edited my post I had mentioned that a "cure for autism" is ethically murky. My point is simply that the response to this news should not be unfettered enthusiasm. There are similar ethical debates within the deaf community. Frankly, I think that the problem is not that scientists provide the option of altering oneself, but that these advances in medicine and technology are often couched in paternalism. It's "we can fix you; make you normal" rather than "here's an option". Some day normal will mean having biotech augmentations of some sort. An exciting option, but if someone tells me that they can fix my product of evolution body I might be a little pissed. Try telling a flat chested woman that those can be "fixed" and see what happens. Many autistics have a similar view.

Re:Jim Sinclair (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944242)

OK, I understand how being autistic can give people neurological advantages, but deafness? If they're deaf from birth and the brain never developed to understand sound, then I can see wanting to be cautious, but if that setback can be fixed, how is the person not better off for having the capacity of hearing?

Re:Jim Sinclair (2, Insightful)

QueenOfSwords (179856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943802)

Well... thats fine for all of you higher functioning types on the spectrum (and the Slashdot Self-Diagnosed Aspergers Posse) but many autistics are *severely* disabled, with no speech, and no chance of an independant life. You can choose not to be treated or 'cured', and that's fine, as your condition is managable. But this could mean that some severely disabled people get the chance to express themselves and *have* an identity.

This experiment won't 'cure' autism directly, but it will provide data that might provide treatment for others.

word games... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943566)

Hell, you could make that argument for ANYTHING.

Therefore, when parents say,

                "I wish my child did not have the flu,"

what they're really saying is,

                "I wish the sneezing, sniffling child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-flu-having) child instead."

Duh.

Re:Jim Sinclair (3, Interesting)

NeuralSpike (968001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943636)

Finally, someone with a reasonable perspective! Thank you for your post. For all of you who don't know, autism--as far as we can tell-- involves the inability of the prefrontal cortex to integrate perception properly. This leads to difficulty in language to the point that most if not all autistic people do not think in linguistic fashion, but rather think visually. Furthermore, the obsession with specific details arises from this; it is as if an autistic individual sees all of what is in his or her visual field, unlike the rest of us who tend to filter out unimportant details. While we think autistic individuals are "in their own little worlds," in reality, their inability filter stimuli results in them being far more aware of the real world than any "normal" person could be. It's no wonder they have trouble developmentally. I have a migraine disorder that manifests in some very bizarre fashions (migraine != VERY BAD HEADACHE; in fact, I almost never have headaches with migraines) including extremely heightened visual and auditory perception. However, whenever I have this heightened perception it is as if I can only perceive the very small details, textures, and contrasts. Let me tell you, IT IS SCARY. Little things become extraordinarily agitating. I honestly don't know how autistic people deal with it. If I had to live my entire life like that, I'd be sitting in a rubber room wearing a soiled diaper with drool dripping down my face as I stared at one spot without moving my gaze until "snow blindness" kicked in rendering my vision useless. Simply changing the neurological structure of someone who has lived with autism will not undue the mechanisms they have learned to compensate with, nor will it automatically restore normal language functioning. You might be able to teach someone these new skills, but you will not have cured them. You will merely have changed them. As to whether that change is for the better or worse I have no answer--the only person who could answer that is the changed individual. Finally, saying a cure for Rett's is a cure for Autism would be like saying a cure for Rett's is a cure for Cerebral Palsy, since Rett's is about as similar to Cerebral Palsy in terms of movement disorders as it is similar to Autism in terms of developmental disorders.

On one last note, do not attack this poster for the clarity of this post as he is moderately inebriated.

Mod Parent up.... (2, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943866)

...If I had the mod points I would do it myself.

I have been officially diagnosed with Aspergers and I can attest to much of what the parent has stated.

If I had been born with a typical neural system I would not be the person that I am today. True, I spent time (and still do) obsessively pursuing new interests while other people were busy making friends, but those things that I learn are all useful and many of them allow me to earn a decent income. In fact, I suspect having Aspergers allows me to become proficient at new things more quickly than most people because once I get interested in something I work at it every chance I get.

In a way, having Aspergers is an asset despite the price that I pay for it (the price can be rather steep in the areas of personal relationships and physical aptitude since I also have Dyspraxia [wikipedia.org] ) -- most people spend their lives becoming specialized on only a few things; due to the fact that I remember everything about my past interests I am constantly becoming more versatile and I have an ever-increasing skill set.

Re:Jim Sinclair (3, Insightful)

Belfry_Bats (1061788) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944190)

That's the most absurd and soppy thing I've read all day.

It may be true for high functioning autistic children, but it's cruel to put guilt trips on parents who have autistic kids who can't speak or be potty-trained for wishing their beloved children were not stricken with such a horrible disorder. It's a 'way of being' as much as Down Syndrome is.

(and I speak as someone with (diagnosed) Asperger's and two severely autistic siblings.)

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942914)

Sad news ... Anna Nicole Smith, dead at 39

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - actress/Playmate Anna Nicole Smith was found dead in her Planet Hollywood room this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss her - even if you didn't enjoy her boobs, there's no denying her contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943460)

Sad news ... Anna Nicole Smith, dead at 39 I just heard some sad news on talk radio - actress/Playmate Anna Nicole Smith was found dead in her Planet Hollywood room this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss her - even if you didn't enjoy her boobs, there's no denying her contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

If anything, her only accomplishments were taking up air, food, water, and resources that someone else might have done some good with.

Trash is buried.

The world is a better place without her.

Let this be a warning to Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, the Universe really does shit on people like you. Oh, and Wham! Boy, you're in there, too.

wait a minute!!! (4, Informative)

neo8750 (566137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942924)

"Rett Syndrome was first recognized by Andreas Rett in 1966 and is a neurological disorder affecting primarily females. Autopsies on the brains of these individuals indicate a pathology different than autism; however, children afflicted with Rett Syndrome often exhibit autistic-like behaviors, such as repetitive hand movements, prolonged toe walking, body rocking, and sleep problems."

Here [autism.org] is the source of this info.

This is /.! (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944096)

We do not need you to spew your FACTS here!

damn mice! (4, Funny)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942938)

They keep curing the mice!!! what about us humans? ... :-) [yes this is a joke].

Re:damn mice! (1)

silvertear72 (899704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943680)

This is why mice are the smartest creatures alive. They get us to figure out ways to cure all of their diseases, and yet we're stuck waiting at least 10+ years before we get an equivalent cure.

Re:damn mice! (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943734)

HHGTTG?

Clever...

Re:damn mice! (1)

waim (998132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943986)

They only cure mice they infect first... so I wouldnt be that jelous

But adults may still be out of luck (4, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942990)

They've reversed (something like) Rett Syndrome in mice, showing that the nerve malfunctioning is reversable. In humans, however, missing vital developmental milestones is not reversable. E.g. normally we acquire grammar by age three, but if for some reason we don't acquire it before the age of about 10, we never will (or only very poorly.) So even if this treatment transfers to humans, it is unlikely to be a complete miracle cure for adult Rett Syndrome (or autistic) people.

Here's [newscientist.com] another article about it.

Discoveries Require Terrific Education (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943068)

Congratulations to the all the Universities & Research Institutions & all their staff involved.

The U.S. & Canada have terrific engineers and bio-researchers, but we need even more, yet we are not increasing students in these arenas, we are seeing declines in most notes I see (decidedly unscientific, I am). And it starts with parents.

Some parents don't care, and others take a "social" position of telling their kids to become something "popular" like a Lawyer. I have a god-daughter who is a straight A student, and she is already thinking she wants to be a lawyer. The last survey I heard in So. Cal. was that about 2 out of 3 lawyers there would pick another occupation if they "knew what they know now" and could do it over again.

I just don't think we need more lawyers.

Re:Discoveries Require Terrific Education (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943774)

Some parents don't care, and others take a "social" position of telling their kids to become something "popular" like a Lawyer. I have a god-daughter who is a straight A student, and she is already thinking she wants to be a lawyer. The last survey I heard in So. Cal. was that about 2 out of 3 lawyers there would pick another occupation if they "knew what they know now" and could do it over again.

I went into law because it was one of the few reasonably lucrative careers that played into my strengths--history/philosophy/social science geekery. Most of the other professions are for the more scientifically oriented, and while I was a decent sysadmin, I like to think I'm a pretty good lawyer (well, in terms of my time in the profession).

I hope mass baby boomer retirements will ensure me of decent-paying jobs for the next decade, but if you're a kid now the law isn't necessarily a safe profession anymore. There is an oversupply of lawyers, and way too many law schools, and it's already pretty hard to get a job out of law school. I imagine it will be far worse in a few years if you're just starting out.

If I had to do it again, starting at the beginning of college? Pharmacy. GREAT career: the hours are good, the pay is very good, and since we're a nation of prescription drug addicts you're set for life.

Nursing's pretty safe too in terms of job security and decentness of pay, though I've heard the actual work isn't too fun.

What then? (2, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943102)

Okay, hypothetically, you cure someone from a form of autism. What then? There's still a social aspect to behavior, one that having whatever syndrome on the autistic spectrum is sure to leave a hole in. Who knows, on human patients who have grown up with, say, Asperger's, does anyone really know if their life will improve? They may already be beyond the socialization phase. There could be some kind of 'social shock' following this supposed cure. Nonetheless, we're probably a long ways of from seeing anything even close to this being done on humans.

sh17 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943240)

handy, you are free parties, but here

Ecological correlations with autism (0)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943258)

Check out the rank ordered list of bi-variate ecological correlations with autism (ecology at the State level) [laboratory...states.com] :

Maximum by-State bivariate corelations with autism percapita 2000.

The following lines each contain the following items:

1) Correlation coefficient.
2) A function applied to adjust a State's percapita autism.
    () means no function applied.
    sqrt() means the square root was taken.
    log() means the natural logarithm was taken.
3) The bivariate formula predicting the previously adjusted autism rate.
4) r1 is the correlation of the first variable alone with autism.
5) r2 is the correlation of the second variable alone with autism.

To generate a scattergram and see the raw data:

See http://laboratoryofthestates.com/cgi-bin/correlate .cgi [laboratory...states.com]

then enter "AutismPercapita2000SansOregonAndMass" for the vertical
and the formula given below for the horizontal.

-----------------

0.600310870050065 () sqrt(FinnishPercapita1990*ImmigrantsIndiaPercapita 1998) bettering r1=0.416806570345255 and r2=0.429065274233648
0.599979036637678 sqrt() log(GSPIndustriesPerGSP1999*ImmigrantsNonWesternPe rcapita1998) bettering r1=0.0415403559840862 and r2=0.428994227300325
0.599618721521368 log() log(GSPIndustriesPerGSP1999*ImmigrantsNonWesternPe rcapita1998) bettering r1=0.032753948828485 and r2=0.433268832849086
0.594501164716388 sqrt() log(GSPIndustriesPerGSP2000*ImmigrantsNonWesternPe rcapita1998) bettering r1=0.0386533075155627 and r2=0.428994227300325
0.593739683661006 log() log(GSPIndustriesPerGSP2000*ImmigrantsNonWesternPe rcapita1998) bettering r1=0.0293946227549309 and r2=0.433268832849086
0.590410355019427 () sqrt(FinnishPercapita1990/UFOReportsPercapitaPerSq uareMilePerYear1941to1996) bettering r1=0.416806570345255 and r2=-0.245662040082846
0.589344939529547 () (FinnishPercapita1990*ImmigrantsIndiaPercapita1998 ) bettering r1=0.473217563942744 and r2=0.3948977437946
0.588776855937162 () log(GSPIndustriesPerGSP1999*ImmigrantsNonWesternPe rcapita1998) bettering r1=0.0504680681454933 and r2=0.41596504785053
0.586104765698104 () sqrt(FinnishPercapita1990*H1BWithJobsPercapita1997 ) bettering r1=0.416806570345255 and r2=0.322376040851882 ... etc.

Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943302)

Just when I had the pet rat counting cards. The house always wins I tells ya.

In Soviet Russia (0, Offtopic)

xluap (652530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943318)

In Soviet Russia, autism cures YOU!

Classic autism aside (2, Insightful)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943478)

>mutations of the MECP2 gene are also believed to be the cause of 'classic' autism, and a number of other neurological disorders.

Classic autism aside, I think a lot of people are suffering from a sociological autism that will *not* be improved by gene therapy. What is autism exactly, is there a definition? I can imagine one, but I'm not sure everyone is on the same page with this relatively new disease.

In other words, I don't think gene therapy will get my dad to shop at designer clothing stores, get his car tuned, or hire contractors to improve his house.

Who cares? (1)

mdemonic (988470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943494)

Mice are cheap and most home users have hamster

Yawn... (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943634)

Wake me up when they've cured altruism.

Oh wait...

Taking a joke too far. (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943808)

Alert me after anyone ameliorates alliteration, an absolutely agonizing ailment.

Re:Yawn... (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944000)

"Wake me up when they've cured altruism."

I have no idea when that will happen, but I highly suspect that the cure won't be given away for free. :P

Far from being done! (1)

ALimoges (870872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943660)

In may work in mice, but it may not apply the same for humans...

Mice... (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943698)

With all the medicine advances for mice, they might even conquer the world eventually.

That is DEFINITELY good news! (0)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943710)

DEFINITELY good news...

DEFINITELY cool....

DEFINITELY....

Joke DEFINITELY over....

Cure for Autism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943738)

Why would many of the functional autistics want that? Hell, why would the non-functionals? The functionals (including AS) have a greater intellect, and do not seem hindered with lies, personal relationships, or other blights.

The non-functionals are completely submersed in their own world, and given how crappy the real world is, how dare people "cure" them of this?

All in all, autistics are genetically superior to all neurotypicals, and should be honored as such.

Genetically-modified people? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944128)

Heck, the "organic" food crowd would have you believe, that eating genetically modified foods may be gravely dangerous to you and the humanity.

I would've ignored this crowd for the loons they are, yet, unfortunately, for well-grown food to be given the coveted "Organic" label, it has to be made from non-GM ingredients. That's just annoying — and gratuitously more expensive.

Yet here they are talking about genetically modifying people directly... Why are we willing to modify a sick person's genes, but not those of cows or maize?

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