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Genes

Rare or common, inherited or spontaneous, mutations form the core of autism risk.

News
white lab mouse grooming.

Cancer drug alters autism-like traits in mice

by  /  5 October 2021
A drug that helps promote gene expression reduces repetitive behaviors and improves memory and sociability in a mouse model of autism.
News
Two colorful mouse neurons seen side by side on black, one has a mutation.

Precocious neurons may stunt brain growth in rare form of autism

by  /  5 October 2021
The first animal model of MYT1L syndrome suggests that fast-maturing neurons lead to the unusually small brains, social deficits and other traits seen in people with the condition.
News / Toolbox
Cells in the cerebral cortex.

Atlas maps gene activity, accessibility in developing brain

by  /  30 September 2021
A new resource profiles gene expression and the accessibility of DNA in single cells across the developing human cerebral cortex and may help scientists decipher the effects of noncoding mutations linked to autism.
September 2021
Abstraction of human genome data with some sections circled.
News

Analysis ups estimate of spontaneous mutations’ role in autism

by  /  27 September 2021

Spontaneous genetic mutations contribute to autism in 30 to 39 percent of all people with the condition, and 52 to 67 percent of autistic children whose siblings do not also have the condition.

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A concerned man holds his toddler close
News

Severe infection may raise odds of autism in some children

by  /  17 September 2021

Mock viral infections impair social memory in mice with a mutation tied to autism, and autistic boys are more likely than their non-autistic peers to have had serious infections early in life.

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circuit board style lines in black and white suggest sperm approaching an egg.
News

Mutations linked to autism may be detectable in men’s sperm

by  /  16 September 2021

An advanced DNA-sequencing technique has identified gene-damaging mutations, some with ties to autism, in about 1 in 15 men.

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Four brains showing areas affected by the X chomosome in yellow
News

X chromosome exerts extra influence on brain development

by  /  15 September 2021

The X chromosome holds stronger-than-expected genetic sway over the structure of several brain regions. The genes that may underlie this oversized influence have ties to autism.

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News / Toolbox

New method uses virus-like protein to package, deliver RNA

by  /  9 September 2021

A novel gene delivery system taps a protein found in people to encapsulate messenger RNA and transport it into cells.

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researcher holds zebrafinch
Features

Fish, frogs, flies and other fauna in scientific firsts

by  /  8 September 2021

Over the past century, scientists have used a variety of animal models to advance their understanding of the developing brain and autism.

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A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies, worms peeking out of petri dishes, zebrafish in beakers and an octopus creeping out of a cabinet..
Features / Special Reports

Special report: Unusual animal models of autism

8 September 2021

In the past two decades, some autism researchers have turned to simple animals, such as roundworms, fruit flies and zebrafish, for their investigations. Others have sought answers from experiments with frogs, birds and even octopuses.

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Colorful illustration shows a boy talking and a bird singing, with the sounds merging between them.
Features

Tuning into bird songs for clues to autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Parallels between how birds learn to sing and how children learn to speak provide a window into the roots of language difficulties in autism.

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Colorful illustration shows a esearcher with frogs and frog eggs.
Features

Autism research makes the leap to frogs

by  /  8 September 2021

Frogs are useful for autism research for a slew of reasons, including the fact that the animals’ initial development occurs outside of the mother’s body in plain view.

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A lighthearted, colorful, chaotic lab scene with fruit flies flying in formation, worms peeking out of piles of dirt and zebrafish spilling out of beakers.
Features / Deep Dive

What studying worms, flies and fish says about autism

by  /  8 September 2021

Researchers are increasingly turning to simple animals to learn about autism biology and find leads for new drugs.

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