Speaker: Dr. Andreia Pereira (University of Coimbra)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a highly heterogeneous neurodevelopmental condition affecting how individuals interact, communicate, and experience the surrounding environment.
The development of effective pharmacological interventions (for those who need and/or want them) is hampered by the great diversity that characterises ASD, but also by the lack of knowledge regarding the underlying neurobiology.
Additionally, clinical trials currently use an ‘all-comers’ approach, but not everyone will respond in the same way.
Thus, more research is needed to a) better understand the underlying neurobiological mechanisms and b) find biomarkers that may help identify who is likely or not to respond to a drug.
While causes may be diverse, different lines of evidence point to altered glutamatergic (excitatory, E) and GABAergic (inhibitory, I) pathways as a key mechanism.
In this talk, I will present our work probing the E-I system using a single-dose of the GABAB receptor agonist arbaclofen in adults with and without ASD.
We investigated the E-I neurochemical response using magnetic resonance spectroscopy as well as electrophysiological signatures of visual processing using electroencephalography.
I will present evidence that a) in vivo E-I responsivity to GABAB receptor drug challenge is distinct in ASD; b) GABAergic differences on visual processing in ASD can be abolished by arbaclofen and that this drug responsivity can be captured by a sensitivity index at the individual level.
Systematically investigating drug responsivity in individuals with ASD might provide a useful tool to stratify individuals based on biological response to drugs prior to clinical trials.
This we hope can ultimately lead to the identification of tailored interventions for individuals with ASD.
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