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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.

May 2012

Autism gene PTEN plays vital role in neural stem cells

by  /  31 May 2012

Knocking out an autism-linked gene called PTEN only in neural stem cells of the hippocampus, a brain region central to learning and memory, throws the development of new neurons off course in adult mice, according to research published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Global road map

by  /  29 May 2012

Two reviews sketch a road map for understanding and treating autism in low- and middle-income countries.

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Funding agency seeks success in ‘fast-fail’ clinical trials

by  /  28 May 2012

A new initiative launched by the National Institute of Mental Health aims to redefine clinical trials for autism by funding short, biomarker-based studies that will allow investigators to quickly rule out ineffective compounds. 

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Rinse and repeat

by  /  22 May 2012

Researchers typically use only one ‘cohort,’ a group of about three dozen mice, for a given set of experiments. When others repeat the experiments with a different set of animals, sometimes the results hold up, and sometimes they don’t.

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European consortium strives to spur autism drug development

by  /  21 May 2012

A $38.7 million project in the European Union — the largest single grant for autism research in the world — aims to bring together academic labs and pharmaceutical companies to speed the move from basic to clinical research.

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Early data suggest antibiotic helps treat fragile X syndrome

by  /  19 May 2012

Preliminary results from a placebo-controlled trial of the antibiotic minocycline in children with fragile X syndrome suggest the drug alleviates some aspects of the disorder, according to research presented Friday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Toronto.

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Shrinking brains

by  /  18 May 2012

Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs and mood stabilizers can change the structure of the brain.

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Clinical research: Early interventions improve language

by  /  18 May 2012

Toddlers with autism who receive behavioral interventions that improve joint attention — engaging and following others’ focus — have better language ability five years later than do controls, according to a study published in May in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Giving fathers oxytocin boosts levels in babies

by  /  17 May 2012

Two new studies on oxytocin, the so-called ‘trust hormone,’ suggest new avenues for using the drug to treat autism.

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Fish study links chromosome 16 genes to head size

by  /  17 May 2012

By creating genetically engineered fish, two independent groups have identified genes in an autism hotspot on chromosome 16 that influence head size and brain development. 

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