Earliest marker for autism found in young infants

Eye contact during early infancy may be a key to early identification of autism, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. Published this week in the journal Nature, the study reveals the earliest sign of developing autism ever observed — a steady decline in attention to others’ eyes within the first two to six months of life.

Gene found to foster synapse formation in the brain

Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found that a gene already implicated in human speech disorders and epilepsy is also needed for vocalizations and synapse formation in mice. The finding, they say, adds to scientific understanding of how language develops, as well as the way synapses — the connections among brain cells that enable us to think — are formed.

Autism and Language Impairment Genetically Linked

New research by scientists at Rutgers University and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, reveals that there is a genetic link connecting family members with autism like Lorenzo Miodus-Santini to those like his brother, Christian, who have specific language impairment characterized by speech and language difficulties that can’t be explained by cognitive or physical problems.

The pig, the fish, and the jellyfish: Tracing nervous disorders in humans

The pig, the jellyfish and the zebrafish are being used by scientists at Aarhus University to, among other things, gain a greater understanding of hereditary forms of diseases affecting the nervous system. This can be disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epilepsy and the motor neurone disease ALS.

Rett Syndrome Gene Dysfunction Redefined

"Now we have a much better understanding of the function of MECP2, and the severity of the disease on a cellular level. Knowing that human Rett neurons are impaired in both global transcription and translation is important for us to design therapeutic strategies for Rett. Growth factors such as BDNF and IGF-1 are known to activate the AKT/mTOR pathway and increase protein synthesis. Down the road, we are interested in further exploring the Akt/mTOR pathway, and investigate how activation of this pathway could reverse the disease.”