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Genes

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

News
A concerned man holds his toddler close

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

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

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.
September 2021
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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Steve Warren
Opinion / Viewpoint

Remembering Steve Warren (1953-2021): A giant in the field of genetics

by , , ,  /  6 September 2021

Steve Warren co-discovered the genetic mechanism that underpins fragile X syndrome and was a generous, inspiring mentor to many.

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neurons in organoids
News

Protein inhibitor normalizes neuronal migration in organoid model of autism

by  /  1 September 2021

Inhibiting a protein that helps cells move or change shape prevents atypical neuronal migration in 3D clusters of brain cells carrying autism-linked genetic variants.

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August 2021
Micrograph showing missing sodium ion channels in cerebral cortex of mice with two mutated copies of SCN2A gene.
News

Model mice hint at sodium channel gene’s contribution to autism

by  /  27 August 2021

Altered electrical activity in the neurons of mice with a mutated copy of SCN2A may explain the animals’ autism-like social behaviors.

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Close-up profile of child with focus on eye.
News

Visual response shows promise as biomarker in autism-linked condition

by  /  23 August 2021

Brain responses to visual stimuli are smaller and weaker in children with Phelan-McDermid syndrome, an autism-linked genetic condition, than in non-autistic children.

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