February 14, 2018

adn-icon-298x300Autism begins with fetal brain development, study suggests

As reported by Autism Daily Newscast earlier this week, a new study published by the researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests that the roots of autism lay in pregnancy. The onset of autism is not perinatal or postnatal, but intranatal, lead author Eric Courchesne observed. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study analyzed 25 genes from post-mortem brains obtained from children having autism as well as typical children. The team of scientists found similar changes of early pathology in the developing brains of all the autistic children. Key bio markers were found to be missing in the brain cells from multiple layers of the brain cortex during the study. Also, developmental defects in early stages were seen in patches in the cortex suggesting that the defects of missing genetic markers were not uniformly distributed in the brain.

Gene family aiding brain evolution linked to severe autism

In a ground breaking new work, scientists have discovered that the gene family that is thought to be the reason why we humans have the most complex brains on earth might be playing a role in producing severe autism. Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus published this finding in the journal PLoS Genetics this week. First author Jack Davis and his team found that there are 270 copies of the DNA fragment called DUF1220 which make up one gene family. This fragment was not just linked to the intensity of autism but with the severity of the three of the chief symptoms of autism too, namely, repetitive behavior, communication difficulties and social deficit. The study points out that the increasing number of copies of DUF1220 is associated with worsening of autism symptoms. Future research could corroborate these findings and utilize them for therapeutic research for autism.

Brain receptor mGlu5 gives new clue for autism

 Yet another peek inside the brain cells has revealed how the tiniest disruptions can wreak havoc in our lives. Children with autism that face memory problems, social deficits and higher-level thought process might be the victims of a malfunction of the receptor mGlu5 present inside brain neuron, a new study has found. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have published a study to that effect in The Journal of Neuroscience this week.  Spearheaded by Karen O’Malley, the team found that the communication between neurons within the brain was reduced due to mGlu5 receptors. The adverse effect of this reduced ‘talking’ between brain cells, leads to the key symptoms of autism- problems of learning, memory and social interactions, the study reported.

Novel approach to autism discovered by study

 An experimental study was conducted across Kent in UK in the schools for children with special needs. The study engaged trained performers in the interactive series of three sensory environments like ‘the arctic’, ‘outer space’ and ‘under sea’. Employing puppetry, light, sound and physical action they aimed at promoting socialization and communication by playful engagement creatively. Parents found the severity of autism symptoms decreasing significantly. These practical methods might be what is needed today for children world over suffering from autism. The study was undertaken by psychologists from University’s Tizard Centre and School of Psychology and was headed by Prof. Nicola Shaughnessy.

About the author 

Igor Berezner

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