A SFARI initiated and funded reanalysis of previous studies reveals consistent biological signals in the human microbiome and other physiological signals associated with autism and highlights the need for long-term studies to determine autism’s underlying causes.
The biological roots of autism continue to perplex researchers, despite a growing body of studies looking at an increasing array of genetic, cellular and microbial data. Recently, scientists have homed in on a new and promising area of focus: the microbiome. This collection of microbes that inhabit the human gut has been shown to play a role in autism, but the mechanics of this link have remained awash in ambiguity. Taking a fresh computational approach to the problem, a study published today in Nature Neuroscience sheds new light on the relationship between the microbiome and autism. This research — which originated at the Simons Foundation’s Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) and involved an innovative reanalysis of dozens of previously published datasets — aligns with a recent, long-term study of autistic individuals that centered on a microbiome-focused treatment intervention. These findings also underscore the importance of longitudinal studies in elucidating the interplay between the microbiome and complex conditions such as autism.
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