Ecstasy-like drugs might relieve social difficulties in autism

Ecstasy-like drugs might relieve social difficulties in autism

Mouse studies hint that social difficulties in autism might be caused by faulty serotonin signalling in the brain and can be helped with serotonin-boosting drugs

Ecstasy pills

An ecstasy-like drug has been tested on mice that display autism-like behaviour

Edd Westmacott/Alamy

Mimicking the effects of the drug ecstasy seems to restore normal social behaviour in mice modified to have social difficulties.

Robert Malenka at Stanford University in California and his colleagues have been studying sociability in mice, as a way to understand why some people with autism can find social situations unpleasant and confusing. They have found that mice missing a section of DNA are less interested in spending time with other mice. The equivalent region of human DNA is often missing in people …

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