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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.

June 2012

Q&A with Luca Santarelli: Targeting neuronal connections

by  /  12 June 2012

Luca Santarelli, head of neuroscience at Roche, explains why he is optimistic that pharmaceutical companies can overcome the obstacles in autism drug development.


Counting conditions

by  /  8 June 2012

A tool designed to detect psychiatric disorders in people with autism may produce more accurate estimates of co-occurring conditions.


Clinical research: Long-term studies track autism’s trajectory

by  /  6 June 2012

Two studies published over the past month followed individuals with autism at various ages and showed that they gain developmental skills differently than controls do.


Valproate fate

by  /  5 June 2012

A new rat study shows that the precise timing of early valproate exposure, an autism risk factor, can have a big influence on behavior later in development.


Immune cells sculpt brain by pruning neuronal connections

by  /  4 June 2012

Immune cells called microglia may play a central role in trimming synapses, the connections between neurons, according to research published 24 May in Neuron. These modifications are part of a normal developmental process by which excess synapses in the brain are destroyed.


Brain trust

by  /  1 June 2012

Preliminary research shows that in people with autism, oxytocin enhances activity in brain areas that process social information.

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.


Global road map

by  /  29 May 2012

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


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. 


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.