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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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From parental age to infection during pregnancy, environmental elements can influence autism risk.

February 2015
Week of FebruaryFeb

Spotted: Brain boom; cure conundrum

by  /  20 February 2015

Investors pour money into ‘brain medicines,’ and people with autism debate the need for a cure.


Autism gene guides early neuron development

by  /  12 February 2015

The little-studied autism gene ANKRD11 helps to package DNA in the nucleus and plays a critical role in the early growth and positioning of neurons.

January 2015

Method charts lifetime expression of DNA in brain

by  /  21 January 2015

A new database that maps changes in gene expression in the prefrontal cortex shows that autism-linked genes are expressed differently than other genes through six stages of life.


Researchers urge caution in studies of mice and microbes

by  /  20 January 2015

Researchers increasingly use mice to investigate the role of gut microbes in autism and other conditions, but there are significant anatomical and other differences between mice and men, cautions a new review.


Surplus of neurons spurs autism traits in mice

by  /  15 January 2015

Fetal mice that have too many neurons grow to show social deficits and repetitive behaviors. The finding, reported 11 December in Cell Reports, debuts a mouse model of autism that’s based on a biological abnormality seen in some people with the disorder.


Technique reveals convoluted curves of chromosomes

by  /  14 January 2015

A new method is faster and more accurate than previous methods at revealing the complex folds that help to fit nearly six feet of DNA into the tiny nucleus of a cell.

December 2014

Genetic encyclopedia highlights human-mouse differences

by  /  24 December 2014

Although mice and humans have many genes in common, a new catalog highlights significant differences in how these genes are regulated. This resource, dubbed mouse ENCODE, clarifies the extent to which mice can accurately model complex human diseases such as autism.


Postmortem brains point to molecular signature of autism

by  /  22 December 2014

An analysis of genes expressed in the postmortem brains of people with autism has identified three molecular pathways linked to the disorder. The findings, published 10 December in Nature Communications, add to mounting evidence that the myriad causes of autism converge on common biological processes.


Future of autism genetics should learn from its past

by  /  9 December 2014

To optimize the search for autism genes, researchers should collect large numbers of sequences — but the sequences need to be of the right kind, says Michael Ronemus.

November 2014

Genetics first: A fresh take on autism’s diversity

by  /  24 November 2014

Each child with autism is different from the next. One approach rapidly gaining momentum makes sense of this diversity by grouping children together based on their genetics, then looking for patterns in their symptoms. The long-term aim: personalized treatments for each subtype of autism.