TURIN - A genetic mutation might be the cause of pedophilia, according to an Italian study. If further research confirms the initial results, the sexual attraction of some adults to children might be considered a disease that can be treated.
A study conducted by neuroscientists at Turin University and researchers at the department of neurological science of the University of Milan asserts that pedophilia is caused by a defective growth factor called pleiotropic protein Progranulin (PGRN). The results were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry and presented during a recent convention of the Neurological Italian Society in Turin.
Lorenzo Pinessi, coordinator of the research, has studied the case of a man who at 50 started to show pedophile behavior toward his 9-year-old daughter. A neurological analysis showed that he was affected by a mutation of Progranulin, which is an essential substance for the process of sexual differentiation of the brain. The mutation of this substance is believed to be associated with a reduction in impulse control leading to frontotemporal lobe dementia, a condition similar to Alzheimers.
Proving that pedophilia has neurobiological causes means there is a chance to treat it, said Pinessi. After some weeks of treatment with anti-psychosis and antidepressant medications, "the patient stopped his pedophile behavior, said the researcher. Still the team acknowledges that more research is needed to determine if all pedophiles display the same genetic mutations.
Read more in Italian in La Stampa
Photo - Ghutchis