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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Community Newsletter: Novel biosensor, mental health needs, autism research’s sex bias

by  /  28 August 2022
Illustration of a signal transmitting neuron.
Christoph Burgstedt / iStock

The Force was with the St-Pierre Lab this week. “We finally achieved a dream I had 10 years ago,” the lab tweeted, sharing a link to their new paper in Cell that describes the JEDI-2P, a genetically encoded voltage indicator (GEVI).

The researchers concluded that the protein-based biosensor “addresses a critical need in neuroscience: the noninvasive recording of rapid voltage transients for extended durations and in deep cortical layers.”

The tool belongs to a family of GEVIs that have “a bright future,” wrote Michael Lin, associate professor of neurobiology and bioengineering at Stanford University, in a quote tweet.

Katrin Franke, junior research group leader at University of Tübingen in Germany, tweeted congratulations to the team, adding “happy to have contributed the retina-part to this great project /w @AnnaIntegrated/@mkorympidou. Try it out-available at Addgene!”

The sensor is “screened & optimized for two-photon #Microscopy – perfect for blazingly fast AOD imaging,” tweeted Fabian Voigt, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard.

In a separate tweet, Brittany Hand, assistant professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus, shared her new review paper that lists five ways providers can meet autistic people’s mental health needs.

“Very much needed and practical suggestions!” tweeted Meng-Chuan Lai, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Mental health support consistently identified as a top need among autistic people,” wrote Patrick Jachyra, assistant professor of sport and exercise sciences at Durham University in the United Kingdom, adding that people with autism don’t get the mental health support they need.

In another thread, Steven Kapp, an autistic lecturer in psychology at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., shared a review of the benefits and harms of interventions to improve mental health outcomes for autistic people published in Autism.

Kapp remarked that the review “concludes against treating ‘core features of autism’ to improve mental health, instead of mental health directly.”

“This will be a slow, careful read with coffee in hand,” wrote Sarah Edmunds, assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, in a quote tweet. She then added “We need more evidence as to whether our EBTs for neurotypical people with anxiety, depression, and trauma work as well (and in the same way) for autistic people with these mental health challenges.”

Lastly, Noah Sasson, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Dallas, shared a study that appeared in Autism Research, the findings of which suggests that use of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule to confirm autism diagnoses for enrollment in research studies leads to an underrepresentation of girls participating in those studies. “Reliance on community diagnosis rather than confirmatory diagnostic assessments resulted in more equal sex ratios,” he tweeted.

“The ADOS-2 is long overdue an overhaul to be fit for diagnosis in females,” tweeted Bianca Schuster, postdoctoral fellow of philosophy at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“More evidence supporting a need to rethink nuanced autistic presentations and evaluate sex-based measurement bias,” tweeted Catherine Burrows, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

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

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