Genetic Clues to Autism's Origin
Remarkable genetic differences between a brain of an autistic person and a person without autism found by U.C.L.A. researchers have changed the way doctors and researchers think about autism.
What's the Latest Development?
Published this week in Nature, a new study led by researchers from King's College London and Toronto University examines gene expression in healthy and autistic brains. "Gene expression is the way D.N.A. sequence is copied into R.N.A., which leads to the synthesis of proteins. Each protein has a task it performs in the cell. Researchers focused on the gene-expression levels. The team compared tissue samples from deceased individuals: 17 healthy patients and 19 autism patients. The scientists discovered similar gene-expression patterns in the autistic brains."
What's the Big Idea?
Dr. Daniel Geschwind, who led the study, said: "If you randomly pick 20 people with autism, the cause of each person's disease will be unique. Yet when we examined how genes and proteins interact in autistic people's brains, we saw well-defined shared patterns. This common thread could hold the key to pinpointing the disorder's origins." And because different brain regions expressed autism similarly across patients with the disease, there is hope that more effective treatments will be developed to address these more uniform symptoms.
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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