New Neurons Provide Important Clues About An Individual’s Autism

La Jolla, CA (Scicasts) — The brains of some people with autism spectrum disorder grow faster than usual early on in life, often before diagnosis. A new study co-led by Salk Institute scientists has employed a cutting-edge stem cell technique to unravel the mechanisms driving the mysterious phenomenon of excess brain growth, which affects as many as 30 percent of people with autism. The findings, published July 6, 2016 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, show that it is possible to use stem cell reprogramming technologies developed in the past decade to model the earliest stages of complex disorders and to evaluate potential therapeutic drugs. Intriguingly, the Salk team found that stem cell-derived neurons made fewer connections in the dish compared to cells from healthy individuals. Furthermore, the scientists were able…

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