Scientific Council Member Schahram Akbarian, MD, PhD and colleagues have conducted key research revealing for the first time how alterations to gene expression in Autism Spectrum Disorders can come from changes other than DNA sequence. By studying neurons in the brain tissue of individuals with autism, the team revealed the link between changes in gene expression and known genetic risk sites for autism.
Being able to see the structural changes of the disorder on the molecular level offers understanding that can eventually lead to new treatments. Said Dr. Akbarian: "Our understanding of psychiatric disorders, such as autism, is burdened by the fact that we often can't see the structural changes that lead to disease. It's only by studying these diseases on the molecular level that scientists can begin to get a handle on how they work and understand how to treat them."