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How does oxytocin change social behaviour in a mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by differences in social interaction and restrictive and repetitive behaviour. The level of disability experienced by people with ASD is severe.

Aims

To determine how novel oxytocin compounds change social behaviour in mice with a genetic mutation associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Among all people with ASD, 70% report having a profound or severe core activity limitation, needing help or supervision to navigate communication, self-care and mobility. There are no treatments for ASD. While applied behavioural therapy has a moderate effect on reducing the symptoms of ASD, it is time consuming, costly and not easily accessed by all. The neuropeptide oxytocin has been explored as a treatment for ASD due to its role in social bonding, however to date, significant limitations in how these compounds cross the blood brain barrier have led to lack of efficacy. Our collaborators have designed novel oxytocin compounds and this project aims to test their efficacy in improving social behaviour in a genetic mouse model of Autism Spectrum disorder. This project will suit someone who is excited about handling mice and has a high attention to detail.

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