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13 March 2012 •

A Newsletter from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

NEWS More sensitive prenatal tests detect autism-linked variants Clinical trials for autism treatments go online DIRECTORS' COLUMN RAS pathway, a potentially unifying theory of autism IN BRIEF Molecular mechanisms: Autism protein forms aggregates Clinical research: Gut bacteria prevalent in autism Cognition and behavior: Study probes speech processing TOOLBOX Fruit fly reference helps link genes to traits BLOG In other words Minority delay

NEWS

More sensitive prenatal tests detect autism-linked variants
Prenatal genetic tests that can detect copy number variations, including those linked to autism, could raise tough questions for doctors and parents.

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Clinical trials for autism treatments go online
A new clinical trial, conducted entirely online, could provide a model for how

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to quickly and efficiently test some potential treatments for autism.

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DIRECTORS' COLUMN

RAS pathway, a potentially unifying theory of autism
Dysregulation of the intracellular signaling pathway RAS, a risk factor for idiopathic autism, may provide a unifying theory of the disorder. Although this is not an altogether new hypothesis, several recent findings have strengthened the evidence for it considerably.

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IN BRIEF

Molecular mechanisms: Autism protein forms aggregates
DISC1, an autism-associated protein, can form large aggregates that deplete the amount of functional DISC1 in cells, according to a study published 14 February in Human Molecular Genetics.

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Clinical research: Gut bacteria prevalent in autism
A certain type of bacteria is prevalent in the intestines of children who have both autism and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms but absent in controls, according to a study published 10 January in mBio.

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Cognition and behavior: Study probes speech processing
Children with autism activate more brain regions than controls do when listening to tonal inflections in speech that convey meaning. The findings were published 19 December in Child Neuropsychology.

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TOOLBOX

Fruit fly reference helps link genes to traits
Researchers have generated and sequenced almost 200 different strains of fruit flies, a widely used model organism, according to a study published 8 February in Nature. The resource they created, called the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, will enable researchers to link genetic variants with aspects of fly biology and behavior. Read More >

BLOG

In other words
When children with autism make grammatical errors, is it due to a fundamental problem in language processing, or rather their difficulty understanding social interactions? Two new studies lend support to the latter idea.

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Minority delay
Minority children tend to show more severe symptoms of autism early on, regardless of social class.

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