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Researchers Use Skin Cells to Study Autism in Petri Dish

November 15, 2010

A team of researchers has used stem cells taken from the skin of patients with Rett syndrome — the most physically disabling of the autism disorders — to replicate autism in the lab and to study how the disease affects brain cells. The team’s findings, to be published on Nov. 12 in the journal Cell, reveal disease-specific cellular defects, such as fewer functional connections between particular neurons, and demonstrate these defects are reversible. The results raise the hope that, one day, autism may become a treatable condition.

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