By Neuroscience News
Autism's biological roots remain a puzzle. A groundbreaking study has spotlighted a promising area: the microbiome, a rich ecosystem of gut microbes that exhibit an intriguing relationship with autism.
The study, used innovative computational techniques. The research involved a reanalysis of numerous previous datasets, illuminating the enigmatic connection between the microbiome and autism.
43 researchers, spanning various fields and continents, collaborated on this unprecedented study. Drawing from a wide spectrum of knowledge, they provided a new, consistent insight into understanding autism.
Microbiome studies commonly focus on relative proportions of specific microbes, making it difficult to identify relevant microbial changes. Most studies offer only a snapshot of the microbial populations in autistic individuals.
The new study charted a different course, revisiting existing datasets. The team developed an algorithm to reanalyze 25 previously published datasets, containing various "omic" information, including gene expression.
The innovative reanalysis provided surprising results. It identified autism-specific metabolic pathways associated with certain gut microbes. Importantly, these pathways were also evident elsewhere in autistic individuals, from their brain-associated gene expression profiles to their diets.
The findings aligned with a recent long-term study focusing on a microbiome-based intervention for autism. This underscores the importance of such longitudinal studies for unravelling the intricate interplay between the microbiome and autism.
The novel approach can be employed across other challenging areas of biomedicine. The implications reach beyond autism, offering a potentially powerful tool for studying conditions like depression, Parkinson’s, and cancer, where the microbiome is suspected to play a role.