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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.

April 2011

Researchers make neurons from people with schizophrenia

by  /  20 April 2011

Researchers have taken skin cells from individuals with schizophrenia, bathed them in chemical cocktails and coaxed them to develop into neurons, according to a paper published 13 April in Nature.

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An ape with ‘autism’

by  /  15 April 2011

Similarities between us and our closest ape relatives — chimpanzees and bonobos — have shaped our understanding of what it means to be human. The latest surprise is Teco, a young bonobo who shows behaviors that look suspiciously similar to those associated with autism.

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Cell’s own machinery can deliver therapies to the brain

by  /  13 April 2011

Exosomes, the brain’s system for delivering and recycling molecules, can be manipulated to carry therapeutic fragments of RNA or DNA across the blood-brain barrier and into neurons. The ingenious new technique was published 20 March in Nature Biotechnology.

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Justice league

by  /  12 April 2011

Autism advocacy backed by science has fueled significant social change as an emphasis on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum lessens the stigma of the diagnosis.

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Seeking counsel

by  /  5 April 2011

Practical and ethical challenges in translational research could be better overcome if clinical researchers were to add genetic counselors to their teams, a new report argues.

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Pet projects

by  /  1 April 2011

Dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, gerbils — could animals be the key to helping people with autism?

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March 2011

New candidate gene may explain male bias of autism

by  /  24 March 2011

A gene that regulates the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain could help explain why males are more susceptible to autism than are females, according to a study published in PLoS One in February.

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Molecular mechanisms: Neuroligin-4 induces synapses in a dish

by  /  23 March 2011

Neuroligin-4, a protein associated with autism, is located at synapses — the junctions between neurons — that inhibit signals in the brain, according to a study published in February in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The protein can also single-handedly induce neurons derived from human stem cells to form synapses, according to another study in the same issue.

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Leisure activities

by  /  22 March 2011

Adults with autism benefit in many ways from choosing their own activities: A new study says they get better at decision-making and their social skills improve.

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Mitochondrial function disrupted in children with autism

by  /  17 March 2011

The first study to look at mitochondria — the powerhouses of the cell — in postmortem brain tissue taken from children with autism has found significant abnormalities in their function in some regions of the brain.

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