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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.

December 2020
White lab mouse sitting in a gloved hand.
Features / Special Reports / Hindsight is 2020: The year in review

Notable papers in autism research, 2020

23 December 2020

Gene therapies and the factors influencing autism traits top Spectrum’s list of the 10 most notable research findings we covered in 2020.

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Protein in brain
News

Drug helps mice with autism-linked mutation recognize others

by  /  21 December 2020

Mice that model 22q11.2 deletion syndrome lack social memory, but that trait can be reversed using a drug that targets the flow of potassium ions in neurons.

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November 2020
Owen leaving his home for a bike ride, followed by his therapists and teachers.
Features / Deep Dive

Owen’s odyssey: A year and a half after an autism diagnosis

by  /  25 November 2020

This is part 2 of Owen’s story. It tracks his early progress in treatment for autism. Part 1 described his difficult path to a diagnosis.

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Young boy looking upset, sits on couch with crossed arms.
Opinion / Viewpoint

Errors of omission: Why we are deeply concerned about research on autism therapies

by , , ,  /  24 November 2020

Studies of autism treatments rarely report adverse events, and the scientists involved often fail to disclose their conflicts of interest.

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News / Toolbox

Test gauges autistic children’s verbal abilities in natural settings

by  /  18 November 2020

An interactive assessment allows clinicians and researchers to evaluate an autistic child’s use of language in everyday social situations.

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Micrograph of nerve cells being targeted by CRISPR enzyme to activate the silenced gene in Angelman syndrome
News

Prenatal CRISPR therapy blocks Angelman syndrome traits in mice

by  /  9 November 2020

A gene-editing treatment shows long-lasting effects in a mouse model of Angelman syndrome, a genetic condition related to autism.

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Photograph of lab researchers at Ultragenyx
News

Gene therapy trial for autism-linked condition is put on hold

by  /  5 November 2020

All five participants in a clinical trial of a gene therapy for Angelman syndrome experienced leg weakness, leading sponsors to pause the study.

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October 2020
Illustration depicts mother and child facing a field of doors: some are dark and some are light
Features / Deep Dive

Low standards corrode quality of popular autism therapy

by  /  28 October 2020

Rapid growth and inadequate standards in the ‘applied behavior analysis’ industry may put vulnerable children in the hands of poorly prepared technicians.

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Illustration shows young woman surrounded by the confusion of puberty and body changes.
Opinion / Q&A

Puberty may arrive early for some autistic girls

by  /  27 October 2020

Girls with autism tend to start puberty earlier than their peers do, which may intensify their social difficulties and put them at an increased risk for bullying and mental health conditions such as depression.

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Ralf Schmid, the research director in Neurodevelopmental diseases at the Gene Therapy Program Orphan Disease Center, loads replicated mouse dna into wells in the gel before applying electric current to test the viability of the dna.
Features / Deep Dive

A quest for Quincy: Gene therapies come of age for some forms of autism

by ,  /  14 October 2020

A gene therapy for Angelman syndrome stands at the forefront of efforts to treat autism-linked conditions that stem from single genes.

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