Brain Find Sheds Light on Autism

A Stanford University team has taken a sample of skin cells for research from people with Timothy syndrome, a rare condition found to have ties to autism. With the skin cells, researchers were able to generate brain cells to examine their development and test out possible treatments. Timothy syndrome affects an estimated 20 people across the globe. People with the syndrome display autistic behaviour, such as issues with social development and communication. Since Timothy syndrome is caused by a single gene defect in contrast to a combination of minor genetic flaws, scientists are able to examine what changes in the developing brain of a child with autism. Researchers found obvious differences between the neurons of Timothy syndrome patients and healthy subjects. Fewer working neurons were found in a part of the brain called the corpus callosum of the patients, resulting in poor communication between left and right hemisphere of the brain. Since Timothy syndrome is only one form of autism, these findings present limited view of what might cause the condition.

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