DURHAM, N.H. — Researchers at the University of New Hampshire could be on the brink of discovering why boys are four times more likely than girls to develop autism.

A three-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, focused on male and female enzymes in the brains of mice. Researchers also looked at chemical compounds that attached themselves to a group of proteins to regulate them to see which were influenced based on sex. 

Research suggests that because female proteins were more highly regulated, this could possibly help prevent the development of autism. 

"Eventually, we will figure it out in the future. We will figure out why boys are more susceptible to autism," said Mao Chen, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at UNH.

Students at UNH want to continue their research, which is in its very early stages. They plan to apply for grants and are hopeful other members of the medical research community across the country will join them in proving this theory.