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.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Efforts to ease the symptoms of autism are beginning to ramp up, with promising candidates in various stages of testing.
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.
Children with fragile X syndrome show abnormal growth in several brain structures during the first few years of life, according to the first study to track how the disease unfolds in the brain during early development.
Several independent groups have found previously unknown risk genes for autism, schizophrenia and mental retardation. The candidate genes have one thing in common: they encode proteins that are needed for the healthy function of synapses, the junctions between neurons.
A decade of research on the biology of autism, combined with a steady rise in diagnoses, has finally piqued the pharmaceutical industry’s interest in developing drugs for the disorder. Preliminary data from one small clinical trial already show positive results, and results from several others are expected early this summer.
Mice engineered to carry a well-known risk factor for schizophrenia show disruptions in the connections between two brain regions that coordinate memory and learning. And these disruptions directly cause problems with working memory — the ability to actively hold information and to recall that information to make a decision, according to a study published in Nature.