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William Catterall examines anxiety drugs for autism

24 June 2015
The Presenter

William Catterall

Chair and Professor, University of Washington

William Catterall studies the role of voltage-gated ion channels in neuropsychiatric disorders.

On 24 June, William Catterall explained how low doses of an anxiety drug alleviate autism-like symptoms in mice. He is professor of pharmacology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

A long-standing theory posits that autism may arise from an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory signals in the brain. Catterall’s team has collected mounting evidence over the past five years suggesting that benzodiazepines — a class of drugs prescribed for anxiety — may help restore this balance in some instances.

A very small dose of one of these sedatives boosts inhibitory brain signals and alleviates autism-like symptoms in mice. In this webinar, Catterall presents results from these mouse studies and discusses their implications for therapy in people with autism.

You can watch a complete replay of the webinar above.

Use the comments section below to submit questions we didn’t have time to discuss during the Q&A session or to pose follow-up questions for Catterall.

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5 responses to “William Catterall examines anxiety drugs for autism”

  1. Samuel Hulbert says:

    Are any of the other phenotypes (aside from the thermally induced seizing) age-dependent? Also, are seizures in humans with Dravet syndrome thermally induced?

    Samuel Hulbert
    Neurobiology graduate student
    Duke University

  2. Jean-Jacques Soghomonian says:

    In the Cre mice, deletion of Scn1a in parvalbumin and SST-neurons most likely occurs throughout the forebrain and cerebral cortex. Do you believe that the phenotype involves deletion of Nav1.1. in a specific region of the forebrain?

    Jean-Jacques Soghomonian
    Associate Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology
    Boston University

  3. Sarah Pallas says:

    When you say you needed to choose the clonazepam dosage carefully, how did you arrive at the optimum dosage? Was the drug threshold for limiting seizures similar to the dose for behavioral rescue?

    Sarah Pallas
    Professor, Neuroscience Institute
    Georgia State University

  4. Elizabeth Milne says:

    Have any trials with clonazepam been carried out in humans with autism?

    Elizabeth Milne, PhD
    Sheffield Autism Research Lab
    University of Sheffield

  5. Sarah Pallas says:

    Can you do the reverse-B6 mouse with blockade of GABAA receptors and evoke the abnormal behavior, or do they just become too epileptic to perform?

    Sarah Pallas
    Professor, Neuroscience Institute
    Georgia State University

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