Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Frogs are teaching researchers about autism

Dr. Helen Willsey at the University of California San Francisco is seeking to understand how autism develops with the help of frogs. Because frogs produce thousands of embryos at the same time, she is able to quickly study the effects of many different gene alterations in the offspring. While the embryos are at the two-cell stage of development, her laboratory alters genes in just one of the cells using CRISPR-Cas9 DNA editing technology. Dr. Willsey stated, “…you can alter the genes of half of the frog’s brain, leaving the other side untouched.” She is hoping this research will lead to a better understanding of which mutations may cause symptoms associated with autism as well as providing potential targets for therapeutics to help people with autism.


University of California San Francisco

Categories: Intelligence and Neuroscience, Reproduction and Development

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1 reply


  1. Frogs are teaching researchers about autism — Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle –

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