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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Community Newsletter: Gene-by-sex effects, biosecurity laws, participatory research

by  /  30 May 2021
Speech bubble formed by a network of communication

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Happy Memorial Day to readers in the United States — and welcome to Spectrum’s Community Newsletter.

This week, high praise — and a hand-clap emoji — come from geneticist Kevin Mitchell (of Wiring the Brain fame) for a new-ish preprint from Jonathan Sebat’s lab at the University of California, San Diego. The preprint, uploaded to medRxiv in April, presents results that “demonstrate that a phenotypic spectrum of ASD is attributable to the relative loadings and gene-by-sex effects of rare and common variation.”

Spectrum covered related work from Sebat’s lab at last year’s annual American Society of Human Genetics meeting.

Sebat himself called out a news story published in STAT on 20 May that describes legislation to impose screening protocols on the growing gene synthesis industry. “Why is this not big news on science Twitter?” he asks. “This will impact scientists studying pathogen genetics.”

Laura Crane, associate professor of psychology and human development at University College London in the United Kingdom, issued a ‘new-paper’ tweet. She and her colleagues have tracked the impact of COVID-19 on specialist autism schools in England.

Autism tweeted a thread that lays out a new paper in the journal’s pages. Teresa Tavassoli, associate professor of psychology at the University of Reading in the U.K., and her colleagues describe “heightened sensory hyperreactivity, an intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety, including separation anxiety, in autistic preschoolers.”

And for those who missed it, there is still a lot of online discussion around the first Interdisciplinary Autism Research Festival, which took place from 19 to 21 May. The event, organized by University College London and the University of Leeds in the U.K., put a spotlight on participatory research.

That’s it for this week. If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you saw in the autism research sphere, send an email to [email protected].