"A large international team obtained skin cells from eight autistic people and five controls. These were converted into stem cells and then induced to develop along a pathway that leads to brain-like neurons. This pathway includes an intermediate step, called a neural stem cell, in which the cells are committed to developing as nerve cells but haven't adopted a mature, specialized nerve cell identity."

"The researchers performed a computational analysis to identify groups of genes that were active at specific steps. This identified three distinct groups of genes (which they termed 'modules') that defined distinct stages of the developmental process. You can think of these stages as pre-neuron, neural stem cell, and maturing neuron."

"When these modules were compared in cells from autistic individuals and controls, there weren't many differences in the two that marked later stages of development. The earliest active module, however, appeared to be active on an accelerated schedule in the cells that came from autistic individuals."
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