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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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

May 2012

Biased search

by  /  1 May 2012

Publication bias is making antidepressants look like a better option for treating autism than they really are, according to a study published last week in Pediatrics.


Social motivation, reward and the roots of autism

Social impairments in autism are likely a consequence of deficits in social motivation that start early in life and have profound developmental consequences, says psychologist Robert Schultz.

April 2012

Studies highlight promise of fragile X treatment

by  /  30 April 2012

A promising approach to treating fragile X syndrome could benefit people even after the critical window of early brain development, and alleviate core symptoms of autism, according to two studies published this month.



by  /  27 April 2012

In the last three years, autism researchers have gone from sequencing single genes to whole exomes, as highlighted at the Translational Neuroscience Symposium in Switzerland last week.


Researchers engineer mice lacking microRNAs

by  /  25 April 2012

Researchers are developing a resource that will allow scientists to engineer mice lacking one of 162 microRNAs — non-coding regions of the genome that regulate gene expression. The results were published 19 April in Cell Reports.


Genetics: Environment modulates autism symptoms in mice

by  /  24 April 2012

Mutant mice with autism-like behaviors have fewer behavioral impairments when provided with toys, exercise wheels and contact with other mice, than do those that live in typical laboratory cages, according to a study published 5 April in Human Molecular Genetics. 


Chili pepper protein can alter behavior of mice

by  /  18 April 2012

By manipulating the location of a protein that detects capsaicin, the molecule responsible for the burn in hot chili peppers, researchers can activate subpopulations of neurons and alter the behavior of mice. The results were published 20 March in Nature Communications.


Molecular mechanisms: Serotonin regulation linked to autism

by  /  18 April 2012

An autism-associated variant in a gene that regulates the chemical messenger serotonin leads to abnormal serotonin regulation and autism-like behaviors in mice. The results were published 3 April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Clinical research: Drug improves quality of life with autism

by  /  17 April 2012

Aripiprazole, a drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat irritability in children with autism, may also improve their overall health-related quality of life, according to a retrospective analysis of two clinical trials. The results were published 21 March in Clinical Therapeutics.


Massive effort planned to map visual brain in mice

by  /  16 April 2012

A ten-year initiative announced last month by the Allen Institute for Brain Science aims to catalog the development, structure and function of neural circuits in the brain at an unprecedented level of detail.