The last 11 years at UCLA, Dr. Manuel F. Lopez Aranda has been researching Autism (ASD). His latest research points at an increased risk of Autism in boys if they were hospitalized due to serious infections between the ages of 18 months and 4 years old. His motivation is quite simple, to help bring solutions to the thousands of families that have children in the spectrum. Throughout his career as a Neuroscientist, his guiding star has been the same, how to help the most amount of people and he figured the only way would be to become part of the solution, the cure or at least guide more research towards a cure. You can see this has been his motivation from day one, when he published his work in the prestigious journal, Science, his work demonstrated that the memory is also processed in a part of the brain that was once believed to be just a perception area. In essence, his work has helped re-shape the way we study learning and memory. He found a protein that helps with memory and was able to increase thousands of times in rats, this work has helped test in primates and hopefully soon we will see this work replicated in humans and thus, help those with Alzheimer’s. He was named the “Father of the memory protein”. My great auntie suffered from Alzheimer’s and it is something that affects the whole family. It is very difficult to see how your loved ones slowly forget everything and hold on to glimpses of memory from their early days. We hope that his research continues to guide the cure to end Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Lopez’s most recent work has been published in the also prestigious journal, Science Advances where along with this collaborators, found that an early immuno-activation in boys (like continued hospitalizations) may increase the risk of Autism (in certain gene-types). This study was replicated by various labs to confirm the findings (in mice). The correlation found was then also found by comparing medical records of more than 3 million children that had early hospitalizations with infections between the ages of 18 months and 4 years (boys in particular) were more likely to be diagnosed with ASD. Another finding is that an already FDA approved drug (used for something different) helped reverse the effects of ASD completely (in mice). This is undoubtedly breakthrough findings that will help continue to shape a cure for ASD.
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