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Autism: Is This a Vascular Disease and Would Therapeutic Angiogenesis be a Potential Treatment?

Numerous lines of evidence, both in humans and animals, indicate that there is a problem with the brain’s blood vessels in individuals with autism. This problem appears focused on the autistic brain’s inability to grow new blood vessels (angiogenesis) when additional demands for a ramped-up blood supply is needed. This leads to a decrease in capillary and arteriole density in areas of the brain that control important activities, including social interactions, communication and impulse control — activities that become disrupted in autism. Zhittya Genesis Medicine is developing one of the most potent angiogenic growth factors (FGF-1) that we have in our bodies and has shown this growth factor can stimulate both new blood vessel growth and new neuron growth in animal models of brain disorders. With recent human studies that have demonstrated the safe and relatively easy manner in which FGF-1 can now be delivered into the brain via intranasal delivery, this promising drug candidate will now be tested in individuals with autism.