2011 Science News of the Year: Body & Brain | Science News

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2011 Science News of the Year: Body & Brain

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12:05pm, December 19, 2011

CHAD SHAW, BRIAN DAWSON, YASUNARI SAKAI, H. ZOGHBI

Sifting through autism’s tangled web

Each person with an autism spectrum disorder has a different disease, yet some commonalities exist, a flurry of studies reveals (SN: 8/13/11, p. 20). Though the finds don’t point to a clear cause or a cure, they inch researchers closer to a deeper understanding of the baffling disorders.

By sifting through genetic differences in a large group of children, researchers find numerous changes that could contribute to autism spectrum disorder (SN Online: 6/8/11). Screening more than 1,000 families, including parents and unaffected siblings, reveals duplicated and missing portions of DNA. Such changes may account for 5 to 8 percent of autism cases.

Other research has focused on gene and

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