Saturday, 27 March 2010
Temple Grandin may have been more correct than anyone has realized when she compared autistic individuals with dogs. A gene in dogs, labeled CDH2, has been identified in dogs with canine compulsive disorder(CCD) and is shared with humans who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and behaviors observed from individuals on the autism spectrum.
The study can be read in the January 2010 edition of Nature Molecular Psychiatry. The study was done through collaboration between the Behavior Service at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the Program in Medical Genetics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
According to Dr. Ginns, professor of Clinical Pathology, Neurology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at UMass Medical School, “The occurrence of repetitive behaviors and similarities in response to drug treatments in both canine CCD and human OCD suggests that common pathways are involved.”
Dr. Nicolas Dodman, professor of clinical sciences at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the study’s lead author says, “This finding is congruent with current evidence that NMDA blockers are effective in the treatment of OCD.”
OCD is a common, co-occurring behavior exhibited by individuals who are on the autism spectrum. While there is no pill yet that treats “autism,” there are medications that can treat common symptoms of the autism disorder, such as NMDA blockers. The CDH2 gene in dogs is in the same gene family with the recently targeted gene for autism.