Nova Mentis Life Science Corp. recently announced that it has begun the diagnostic and treatment phase of an ongoing preclinical model study of autism spectrum disorder in which pregnant rats are exposed to valproic acid and the resultant offspring display autism spectrum disorder symptoms.
In a news release, Nova said it “had previously identified statistically significant changes in levels of inflammatory molecules, called cytokines, and in certain bacterial species within the intestinal microbiome of the [autism spectrum disorder] animals.” Nova plans to continue measuring the microbiome and cytokines in the animals with severe symptoms and compare to control animals, with a psilocybin treatment phase slated to begin this month.
“We’re studying the microbiome-related correlates of VPA-induced autism spectrum disorder-associated behaviors in a rodent model,” Nova scientific advisory board chair Marvin S. Hausman, MD, said in the release. “In particular, we will be looking at temporal changes in the biome in newborn rodents prior to weaning, which has direct application to the human disorder.”
Human prenatal exposure to valproic acid has been linked to increased risks of neurdevelopment problems, cognitive deficits and autism in children. Nova’s premise is that the VPA-induced autism pathway “may involve similar factors causing other chronic human diseases.” The company said it hopes to use machine learning to create a biomarker program that can measure psychedelic treatment response.