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Understanding sex/gender differences in autism

A new series of podcasts and open-access research papers on sex/gender differences in autism
June 15, 2015

The journal Molecular Autism has launched an ongoing series of open-access research articles and accompanying podcasts on understanding sex/gender differences in autism. The podcasts feature interviews with leading researchers discussing their investigations and have accompanying links to the full text of their published findings.

The journal will continue to add to this open-access collection on sex/gender differences as additional articles publish. Current podcasts and papers include:

Christine Wu Nordahl on anatomical brain differences in preschool girls versus boys
“The entire field of medicine is moving towards this notion of individualized medicine and understanding certain gender differences … how they influence diagnosis and treatment can only move us towards this goal of really treating each individual based on their symptoms and biology.” – Christine Wu Nordahl, University of California, Davis

* Listen to the podcast here.
* Read Dr. Nordahl’s research paper here.

Valerie Hu on a key biochemical difference in the brains of males versus females with autism
“This new study suggests another mechanism for the higher autism susceptibility in males that is linked to RORA deficiency…. It’s just one aspect to personalized medicine, where one takes into account the genetics and the underlying biology within a given individual; in this case we’re adding sex as part of the underlying biology.” – Valerie Hu, George Washington University

Note: This research was made possible by post-mortem donations to the Autism Speaks Autism Tissue Program, which is now part of Autism BrainNet. Learn more about Autism BrainNet and post-mortem tissue donation that advances understanding of autism here.

* Listen to the podcast here.
* Read Dr. Hu’s research findings here.

Jake Gockley and Stephan Sanders on the genetics of the “female protective effect” in autism
“Understanding sexual dimorphism in the brain and how genetic risk factors could potentially confer autism risk in a sex-specific manner is vital in treating autism in its entirety and ensuring that specific subsets aren’t set at a disadvantage.” – Jake Gockley, Yale University School of Medicine

* Listen to the podcast here.
* Read Dr. Sanders and Gockley’s research paper here.

Donna Werling on differences in autism risk associated with having a sister versus brother with autism
“Autism is such a heterogeneous condition. It has a spectrum-like presentation. There are up to 1,000 genes involved in risk. And yet the male bias in autism is so persistent.… Harnessing the component of sex differential biology involved in risk could be useful in a wide range of patients across that heterogeneous spectrum.” – Donna Werling, University of California, Los Angeles

* Listen to the podcast here.
* Read Dr. Werling’s research paper here.

Access the entire special collection here.

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