Solving the mystery of autism

By Michael Paulsen,

It doesn’t sound like much: A tiny bit of skin, plucked from the arm of a child and placed in a dish. But in a Houston lab, the skin cells in that dish may be key pieces to solving the puzzle of autism – what causes it, how to diagnose it and, eventually, how to treat it.
At the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, Dr. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic and a team of colleagues are finding new ways to explore the mysteries of autism, which affects one in 88 kids. Studying brain disorders can be tricky – after all, you can’t cut into the brain and examine it directly. But now, from their 12th-floor lab in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, this team is using a patient’s own cells to re-create human neurons outside the body. …