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Developing a monkey model to drive streamlined translation and clinical impact for autism

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a prevalent and poorly understood neurodevelopmental disorder. There are currently no laboratory-based diagnostic tests to detect ASD, nor are there any disease-modifying medications that effectively treat ASD’s core behavioral symptoms. Scientific progress has been impeded, in part, by overreliance on model organisms that fundamentally lack the sophisticated social and cognitive abilities essential for modeling ASD. We therefore saw significant value in studying naturally low-social rhesus monkeys to model human social impairment, taking advantage of a large outdoor-housed colony for behavioral screening and biomarker identification. Careful development and validation of our animal model, combined with a strong commitment to evaluating the translational utility of our preclinical findings directly in patients with ASD, yielded a robust neurochemical marker (cerebrospinal fluid vasopressin concentration) of trans-primate social impairment and a medication (intranasal vasopressin) shown to improve social cognition in naturally low-social monkeys and in children with ASD. This translational primate research approach stands to advance our understanding of ASD in a manner not readily achievable with existing animal models, and can be adapted to investigate a variety of other human brain disorders which currently lack valid preclinical options, thereby streamlining translation and amplifying clinical impact more broadly.


Karen J Parker (Stanford University)

will be held online via zoom

Date and Time 06.10.22 - 17:00 - 18:30 Signup is not required


Meeting-ID: 936 4987 3426
Kenncode: 882074


Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate Cognition and Collaborative Research Center 1528 - Cognition of Interaction

Contact Christian Schloegl (
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