Intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders could share similar defects although their genetic causes are different, according to Scottish scientists.
A study of two models of intellectual disability in mice by Edinburgh University has found that they share similar disease mechanisms.
Researchers also found that treatment with a statin drug called Lovastatin, which is often used to treat high cholesterol, can correct high levels of protein production in the brain linked to the conditions.
The findings suggest that different types of intellectual disabilities may benefit from common therapeutic approaches, the researchers say.
Professor Peter Kind, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities, said: “Statins, such as lovastatin, are already used widely for treating people, including children, for high cholesterol with minimal side effects.
“Further studies are needed to determine whether these existing medications could also help people with intellectual disabilities.”
The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.