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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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Treatments

Efforts to ease the symptoms of autism are beginning to ramp up, with promising candidates in various stages of testing.

August 2010

Disability vs. difference

by  /  26 August 2010

People with autism are asserting their right to be different. They say so-called ‘neurotypicals’ are the ones with communication problems, relying on the ‘animalistic means’ of body language, and they don’t understand why their focused, repetitive behaviors are thought to be problematic when neurotypicals indulge in obsessions such as sports and soap operas.

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Fragile X protein linked to potassium channels

by  /  24 August 2010

Mouse models of fragile X syndrome show defects in two kinds of potassium channels — ubiquitous pores that control the flow of electrical current across neurons — in a brain area that processes sound, according to two papers published this summer.

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Misbehaving mice

by  /  19 August 2010

You’ll never hear Jacqueline Crawley talk about an ‘autistic mouse’. In fact, in her keynote address at IMFAR in May, she implored the audience to never use those two words in the same sentence.

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Beware the hype

by  /  18 August 2010

If you believe the hype about oxytocin, it’s nothing short of a wonder drug: it can make you trust a stranger, enhance a mother’s bond with her child and, according to a study published earlier this year, improve social skills in individuals with autism. But look more closely, and there is ample cause for caution.

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Kevin Pelphrey: Charting the course of the social brain

by  /  17 August 2010

With robust training in developmental psychology and a techie’s fervor for new tools, Kevin Pelphrey is systematically investigating how the brain changes during development — starting in infants as young as 6 weeks old.

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Simple screens

by  /  10 August 2010

In the not-too-distant future, we may be able to diagnose toddlers with autism using a simple clinical test — based on voice patterns, blood or even urine.

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Fragile X models give clues to stem cell programming

by  /  9 August 2010

Not all stem cells are created equal, a string of new studies suggests: adult cells that are reprogrammed into stem cells carry chemical remnants of the tissue from which they originate, making them distinct from embryonic stem cells. These differences may have important implications for studying fragile X syndrome and other diseases that arise from epigenetic glitches.

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July 2010

Scientists flash videos of brain development in fragile X

by  /  30 July 2010

Scientists have for the first time captured a dynamic picture of brain defects in young mouse models of fragile X syndrome. The findings appeared in June in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Promising treatment

by  /  29 July 2010

Families affected by fragile X syndrome can let out a modest cheer this week: the largest-ever randomized trial of a drug to treat the syndrome has just cleared its second phase.

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Neurexin found to have diverse partners at synapse

by  /  27 July 2010

Scientists have discovered that neurexins — proteins linked to autism — bind to a wide variety of molecules at the junction between neurons. In this complicated system, the breakdown of any one of the parts could lead to improper cell signaling, ultimately giving rise to disease.

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