Autism News

ASF President Alison Singer on The Leonard Lopate Show

Source: 
The Leonard Lopate Show
Date Published: 
September 9, 2014
Abstract: 

Across the country and around the world, children are getting sick and dying from preventable diseases—in part because some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children. Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation, and Dr. Amy Middleman, Adolescent Medicine Specialist at the University of Oklahoma's Health Sciences Center, examine the science behind vaccinations, the return of preventable diseases, and the risks of opting out. They’re both featured in the PBS NOVA documentary “Vaccines—Calling The Shots,” which airs September 10, at 9 pm, on PBS.

Autism Treatment in the First Year of Life: A Pilot Study of Infant Start, a Parent-Implemented Intervention for Symptomatic Infants

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date Published: 
September 9, 2014
Abstract: 

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis MIND Institute and published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders suggests that very early intervention can greatly reduce symptoms of autism as children age. The study looked at a 12-week treatment program with seven infants aged 9 to 15 months; researchers followed the children until they were 3 years old. Over time, these children showed fewer symptoms of autism. Although the sample size was small and it was not a randomized study, this study indicates exciting results from this type of intervention.

New Tools Validate Dish-Grown Neurons for Autism Research

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
September 1, 2013
Abstract: 

Creating neurons from stem cells in a lab dish is a popular approach for studying developmental disorders such as autism. For this, researchers begin with stem cells, either taken from postmortem fetal brains or reprogrammed from other cells. They then chemically coax them into becoming neurons. Two new studies suggest that neurons made from stem cells recapitulate the early stages of development, making them good models for disorders such as autism. However, the neurons never fully reach the maturity of neurons found in adult brains.

Expansion of the Clinical Phenotype Associated with Mutations in Activity-Dependent Neuroprotective Protein

Source: 
Journal of Medical Genetics
Date Published: 
July 23, 2014
Abstract: 

A new study has identified a genetic change in a recently identified autism-associated gene, which may provide further insight into the causes of autism. The study, now published online in the Journal of Medical Genetics, presents findings that likely represent a definitive clinical marker for some patients' developmental disabilities. Researchers identified a genetic change in a newly recognized autism-associated gene, Activity-Dependent Neuroprotective Protein (ADNP), in a girl with developmental delay. This change in the ADNP gene helps explain the cause of developmental delay in this patient. This same genetic change in ADNP was also found in a boy who was diagnosed with autism.

Method Reveals Relationship Between White, Gray Matter

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 27, 2014
Abstract: 

A new technique helps researchers trace the nerve fibers that connect brain regions by revealing how the fibers physically relate to curves and folds on the brain’s surface. The method was described in Medical Image Analysis. The technique examines the relationship between white matter, composed of nerve fibers and support cells, and gray matter, which is largely made of the cell bodies of the neurons the fibers sprout from. Preliminary findings support the theory that autism involves early, hyperconnected and dense brain growth before an abnormal decline, the researchers say.

Large Genetic Deletion Leads to Autism, But Not Always

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 21, 2014
Abstract: 

To characterize people who carry deletions in 16p11.2 and 15q13.3, genetic regions linked to autism, two studies published this summer looked in detail at dozens of people with either deletion. The studies found that deletions in these regions lead to diverse symptoms that only sometimes include autism. The studies were published in the journals Biological Psychiatry and Genetics in Medicine.

Loss of mTOR-Dependent Macroautophagy Causes Autistic-like Synaptic Pruning Deficits

Source: 
Neuron
Date Published: 
August 21, 2014
Abstract: 

As a baby’s brain develops, there is an explosion of synapses, the connections that allow neurons to send and receive signals. But during childhood and adolescence, the brain needs to start pruning those synapses, limiting their number so different brain areas can develop specific functions and are not overloaded with stimuli.

Now a new study suggests that in children with autism, something in the process goes awry, leaving an oversupply of synapses in at least some parts of the brain.

See the full article about this study in the New York Times here

Test Measures Children's Ability to Distinguish Between Faces

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 20, 2014
Abstract: 

People with autism often have trouble recognizing faces, and tend to avoid looking at others' eyes. These deficits may contribute to their difficulty picking up on social cues. An adaptation of an adult face recognition test for children will make it easier to chart the development of children’s abilities, researchers say. The new test is described in a study published in Neuropsychologia.

Age Alters Patterns of Chemical Tags on Sperm DNA

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 18, 2014
Abstract: 

The configuration of methyl tags that modify DNA in sperm change as men get older, according to a study published PLOS Genetics. These alterations may help explain why children of older fathers are at increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism. Researchers at the University of Utah collected sperm from 17 men, once in the 1990s and again in 2008. They found that the distribution of methyl tags, a particular kind of DNA modification, shows relatively consistent changes over time in the sperm. However, the study does not necessarily prove that these altered patterns survive past fertilization or influence the risk of disorders such as autism.

Signaling Imbalance Skews Sensory Responses in Autism Mice

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 11, 2014
Abstract: 

Mice modeling autism have trouble integrating different kinds of sensory information such as sight, sound and touch. A study published in Neuron reports that an imbalance between signals that calm neurons and those that excite them leads to these sensory problems.