Autism Research

Autism Genes are Surprisingly Large, Study Finds

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
September 16, 2013
Abstract: 

In a study recently published in the journal Nature, researchers discovered that autism genes are three to four times longer than the average gene expressed in neurons. According to the study, most mutations found in long genes tend to be discounted due to the fact that long genes generally have a higher probability of having a mutation, but the study says researchers think mutations in long genes should be looked at more carefully from now on.

Most People Who Work with Special-Needs Children Lack Knowledge About Fragile X

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
September 13, 2013
Abstract: 

According to a recent study in the journal Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, most people who work with special-needs children lack basic knowledge about Fragile X syndrome, even though it is the leading cause of inherited intellectual disability. Most people studied did not know many of the symptoms of the syndrome or how best to support children with Fragile X syndrome.

Study Finds that a Subset of Children with Autism may be Misdiagnosed

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disororders
Date Published: 
September 18, 2013
Abstract: 

A study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute studied children with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, who as a group have a prevalence of autism between 20 and 50 percent according to parent reports. This study found that these children may be getting misdiagnosed because the symptoms of the chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, including social impairments, are very similar to symptoms of autism.

Alarm Over Autism Test

Source: 
Science Magazine
Date Published: 
September 13, 2013
Abstract: 

A research group exploring the hypothesis that certain maternal antibodies can impair fetal brains has partnered with a company to develop a test for predicting whether a woman will have a child with autism. The antibodies, they claim, could account for up to a quarter of all autism cases. But other autism scientists are skeptical that the evidence is strong enough to make such a claim, or to consider an autism test based on the antibodies.

The full article from Science magazine can be viewed here.

Oxytocin and Serotonin May Not be Rewarding Social Interactions in Autistic Brain

Source: 
Nature
Date Published: 
September 11, 2013
Abstract: 

In the brain, oxytocin and serotonin work together to make social interactions pleasurable, rewarding, and worth repeating. A new study in the journal Nature shows that in individuals with autism, these rewarding functions may not be occurring properly, making social interaction uncomfortable.

An article in TIME on this study can be found here

Autistic Children Can Miss Non-Verbal Cues When Listening

Source: 
Developmental Science
Date Published: 
September 10, 2013
Abstract: 

Due to the fact that many people with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty holding eye contact during face to face interaction, these people can miss out on important non-verbal cues during this interaction. The study also found that most people, whether typically- or non-typically developing, have difficulty holding eye contact when thinking, such as if asked to answer a challenging math problem.

In Autism, Head and Body Size Varies with Gender

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
August 29, 2013
Abstract: 

Girls with autism tend to have smaller heads and bodies than their typically developing peers, whereas boys with the disorder tend to have average-sized heads and slightly larger bodies, report two recent studies. This shows another way that autism affects males and females differently.

Young Adults with Autism Found to Have Difficulty Transitioning Into Employment

Source: 
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Date Published: 
September 5, 2013
Abstract: 

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes that young adults with autism spectrum disorders are experiencing particular difficulty in successfully transitioning into employment. Approximately one half of young adults with an ASD have worked for pay outside the home in the first eight years following high school. The study concludes that further research is needed to determine strategies for improving outcomes as these young adults transition into adulthood.

Genome-Editing Tools Compose New Models of Autism

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute
Date Published: 
September 5, 2013
Abstract: 

New synthetic biology tools have allowed for great advances in genetic testing of many mutations. This technology known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) allows researchers to create molecular scissors that cut and paste essentially any mutation into the genome of any cell, including a human stem cell.

Researchers Discover a Potential Cause of Autism

Source: 
Natue
Date Published: 
August 28, 2013
Abstract: 

Researchers at UNC have discovered that problems with a key group of enzymes known as topoisomerases can have profound effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder. Researchers believe this finding represents a great step forward in the search for environmental factors behind autism.

Information on this study at UNC can be found at
http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2013/august/researchers-discover-a-potential-cause-of-autism