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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Genes

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

April 2011

Genetics: Clumsiness is inherited with autism

by  /  1 April 2011

Clumsiness in children with autism may result from the same genetic mutations that contribute to the disorder, according to a study published in February in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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March 2011

Prenatal tests for autism mutations pose ethical dilemmas

by  /  31 March 2011

Genetic syndromes associated with autism are increasingly being diagnosed in utero because of techniques that can identify subtle mutations in the genome. But the technology is ahead of the ethical debate on whether and how to inform parents about mutations with unknown effects.

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Genetics: Parkinson’s disease gene linked to autism

by  /  30 March 2011

Two children with Asperger syndrome have disruptions in the PARK2 gene — one child has a duplication in the gene whereas the other has a deletion — according to a study published in February in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

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Genetics: Small duplications identify new schizophrenia gene

by  /  29 March 2011

A neurotransmitter called VIPR2, or vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor, is a candidate gene for schizophrenia and, potentially, autism, according to a study published in February in Nature.

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Could a virus cause autism?

by  /  28 March 2011

An Italian group is investigating the provocative hypothesis that some cases of autism are the result of a viral infection passed from sperm to fetus.

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Face time

by  /  25 March 2011

In the world of Skype, instant messages and tweets, face-to-face interaction is still the best route to discovery, according to an intriguing study published in December.

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New candidate gene may explain male bias of autism

by  /  24 March 2011

A gene that regulates the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain could help explain why males are more susceptible to autism than are females, according to a study published in PLoS One in February.

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Molecular mechanisms: Neuroligin-4 induces synapses in a dish

by  /  23 March 2011

Neuroligin-4, a protein associated with autism, is located at synapses — the junctions between neurons — that inhibit signals in the brain, according to a study published in February in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The protein can also single-handedly induce neurons derived from human stem cells to form synapses, according to another study in the same issue.

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Molecular mechanisms: Autism gene linked to mitochondria

by  /  22 March 2011

Disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1, or DISC1— a protein associated with both autism and schizophrenia — is involved in the transport of mitochondria, the power-houses of the cell, to their correct locations in neurons, according to a study published in February in Molecular Psychiatry.

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New SHANK3 mouse shows autism-like features

by  /  21 March 2011

Researchers have created a mouse carrying a deletion in SHANK3, an autism candidate gene, they reported yesterday in Nature. This is the second model of SHANK3 mutations but shows markedly more behavioral and brain defects compared with the first.

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