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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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October 2013
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Researchers grow large batches of neurons for drug screening

by  /  9 October 2013

Researchers have optimized the production from stem cells of large numbers of a subtype of neurons involved in cognitive function. The technique, published 20 August in Translational Psychiatry, could generate enough neurons for large-scale screening of drugs.

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New behavioral test uncovers autism mouse’s stubbornness

by  /  2 October 2013

Researchers have developed a new test that reveals complex repetitive behaviors in BTBR mice, a mouse strain with features resembling those of autism, according to a study published 27 August in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

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September 2013
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New method uses light to toggle gene expression

by  /  25 September 2013

Researchers have modified optogenetics — a technique that activates neurons in mouse brains with beams of light — to toggle a gene on or off. They reported the advance 22 August in Nature.

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Rett syndrome mutation alters motor function in zebrafish

by  /  18 September 2013

Mutating MeCP2, the gene linked to Rett syndrome, in zebrafish allows researchers to investigate the disorder early in development, according to a study published 16 July in Frontiers in Neural Circuits.

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Technique probes gene expression in intact tissue

by  /  11 September 2013

A new method allows researchers to highlight mutations in individual cells without first isolating the cells from the surrounding tissue, according to a study in the August Nature Methods.

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Rats armed to catch up to mice as top mammalian model

by  /  4 September 2013

Researchers have developed a method to engineer rats so that they lack a certain gene in only select regions of the brain, they report in the July issue of Nature Methods.

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August 2013
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Genetic switch labels active neurons in mouse brains

by  /  28 August 2013

A new method, described 5 June in Neuron, allows researchers to tag only those neurons that are active during the following 12-hour time window.

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New genetic background elicits aggression in mouse model

by  /  21 August 2013

Mice lacking neurexin-1, an autism-linked protein that helps stabilize the junctions between neurons, are highly aggressive, according to a study published 28 June in PLoS One. These mice share a consistent genetic background, which may account for this being the first social deficit seen in mice lacking this protein. 

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Subgroups improve genetic analysis of autism

by  /  14 August 2013

Researchers can increase the power of studies that link genetic variants to autism by factoring in potential subgroups of the disorder, according to a report published 26 June in PLoS One.
 

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Genetic test highlights autism-linked chromosome blips

by  /  7 August 2013

A new clinical test for duplications or deletions of chromosomal regions is customized to detect more than 380 known changes, including many that are linked to autism. The method was published 24 June in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A.

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