Miniature Brain Models: Understanding Autism
[Source: Science Daily]
To better understand the causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) it is crucial to look at what is happening in the brain during development. The closest we come to observing human brains this early is by using organoids — miniature models of organs. With their help, scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) discovered how mutations in a high-risk gene of autism disrupt important developmental processes.
Several hundred genes are associated with autism spectrum disorders. Some patients are only mildly affected, while others have severe disabilities. In addition to characteristic symptoms like difficulties in social interaction and communication with other people, as well as repetitive-stereotypic behaviors, patients with mutations of the gene CHD8 oftentimes have intellectual disabilities and macrocephaly — an unusually large brain. How CHD8 causes these symptoms has long been unclear.
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