Gene Mutation Leading to Autism Found to Overstimulate Brain Cells

Scientists looking to understand the fundamental brain mechanisms of autism spectrum disorder have found that a gene mutation known to be associated with the disorder causes an overstimulation of brain cells far greater than that seen in neuronal cells without the mutation.

The Rutgers-led study, spanning seven years, employed some of the most advanced approaches available in the scientific toolbox, including growing human brain cells from stem cells and transplanting them into mouse brains.

Brain-Like Organoids Grown in a Dish Provide Window into Autism

Whatever you do, don’t call them “mini-brains,” say University of Utah Health scientists. Regardless, the seed-sized organoids—which are grown in the lab from human cells—contained an array of neural and other cell types found in the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the brain involved in language, emotion, reasoning, and other high-level mental processes. They are providing insights into the brain and uncovering differences that may contribute to autism in some people.

Rare Human Gene Variant in ADHD, Autism Exposes Fundamental Sex Differences

Key differences in male and female mice brains provide new insights into how sex determines the mechanisms by which distinct synapses monitor and regulate dopamine signaling. The impact of sex differences is particularly pronounced when the mice express a human genetic variant found in boys with either ADHD or autism. Behavioral generalizations across the sexes may limit diagnosis of mental illness, especially if one sex translates alterations into outward signs such as hyperactivity and aggression vs. more internal manifestations such as learning, memory and mood, even when the same molecular pathology is at work.

In-school occupational therapy creates positive education experiences for kids with autism

In an Australian first, South Australia has appointed a new Assistant Minister for Autism, tasked to increase autism supports in public primary schools. This could not have come at a more urgent time as new research from the University of South Australia shows that parents world-wide report a lack of awareness and understanding of the unique learning needs of autistic children across all levels of mainstream school.

Scientists develop blueprint for turning stem cells into sensory interneurons

Key takeaways:
• Just like the real thing. The stem cell–derived interneurons, which play a role in sensations like touch and pain, are indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts in the body.
• Tomorrow’s therapies. In addition to potential treatments for injury-related sensation loss, the discovery could lead to new methods for screening drugs for chronic pain.
• Moving forward. While stem cells from mice were used in the research, scientists are now working to replicate the findings with human cells.

Summer Institute focused on life after high school for kids with autism, ADHD, more

The UC Davis MIND Institute’s annual Summer Institute on Neurodevelopmental Disabilities is focused on strategies to support individuals with ADHD, Down syndrome, autism and more as they prepare for life after high school. The free, virtual event will take place Aug. 3 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. and is open to all.

Joe C. Wen and family donate $20 million to support the new UCI Health Center for Advanced Care

Irvine, Calif., June 27, 2022 — Supported by a $20 million gift from Joe C. Wen and his family, the UCI Health outpatient clinical facility at the new UCI Health–Irvine complex will bring specialty clinical expertise closer to coastal and south Orange County residents on the UCI campus. “The Joe C. Wen & Family Center for Advanced Care at UCI Health–Irvine will play a special role in the life of south Orange County because of our unique ability to marshal all the resources of a comprehensive research university in support of delivering the best and most up-to-date care,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.

A mother’s blood may carry the secret to one type of autism

The reactivity of a mother’s autoantibodies to specific fetal brain protein patterns may predict the child’s diagnosis with a type of autism known as MAR ASD. MAR ASD was present in around 20% of kids with autism in Arkansas and Philadelphia samples and was linked to more significant autistic traits.

Artificial Intelligence Reveals Links Between Individual Differences in Brain Anatomy and Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms

Differences in behavior among people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are closely related to differences in neuroanatomy – the shape of a brain – a team of Boston College neuroscientists report today in the journal Science. This discovery could help to understand the causes of ASD, and to develop personalized interventions.

Adaptive swim classes build confidence, safety skills for autistic children

Based on the positive results of a new pilot study offering personalized aquatic occupational therapy for 19 autistic children, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine will expand the program to include 36 autistic children over the next year.

Do early therapies help very young children with or at high likelihood for autism?

In an analysis of reviews published between 2009 and 2020 that assessed therapeutic or educational interventions for very young children with or at high likelihood for autism, researchers found that certain types of interventions—called naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions, developmental interventions, and behavioral interventions—can provide benefits, but there were significant limitations in the quality of the evidence and many differences in how studies were performed.

Does autism begin in the womb?

An international research group led by Professor Toru Takumi (Senior Visiting Scientist, RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research) and Researcher Chia-wen Lin at Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine has shown that idiopathic autism*1 is caused by epigenetic*2 abnormalities in hematopoietic cells during fetal development, which results in immune dysregulation in the brain and gut.

Unusual visual examination of objects may indicate later autism diagnosis in infants

Unusual visual inspection of objects in infants may precede the development of the social symptoms characteristic of autism syndrome disorder, a UC Davis Health study has found.

Learning a New Exercise Can Improve Cognitive Function in Children with Autism

Cognitive deficits are commonly found in children with autism. Research shows that exercise could be an effective intervention to lessen such deficits, yet why and how physical activity impacts cognitive function remains unclear. Investigators believed that apart from physiological factors,…

UNC TEACCH Researchers Awarded $9 Million for Study of Suicide Prevention Tailored for Youth on the Autism Spectrum

Brenna Maddox, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC Department of Psychiatry and an implementation scientist for the UNC TEACCH Autism Program, is co-leading a national study funded by a $9-million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) that will compare the effectiveness of two suicide prevention interventions for autistic individuals.

Study Shows Visual Evoked Potential Is a Promising Tool for Translational Research Into Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Researchers at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai have identified specific transient visual evoked potential waveform abnormalities in individuals with Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS), proving the method to be an effective, noninvasive technique to gather objective data from a range of individuals, including those who are profoundly affected.