Author

Jessica Wright

Senior News Writer, Spectrum

Jessica Wright writes for Spectrum and reports on breaking autism research from conferences around the world. She joined Spectrum in 2010.

Jessica covers all aspects of autism research, but her primary beat is genetics. She has firsthand experience with whole-genome sequencing from her postdoc at Rockefeller University. Her writing has also appeared in Nature and Scientific American.

Jessica has a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University.

January 2017
Chemical clues: Tags on proteins called histones (burgundy) that scaffold DNA (violet) may help researchers find an autism signature.
News

Autism brains bear telltale pattern of chemical tags

by  /  12 January 2017

The brains of many people with autism may exhibit a characteristic arrangement of chemical groups on the proteins that DNA coils around.

0 Comments
Brain barrier: A mutation linked to autism prevents essential amino acids from entering the brain.
News

Rare form of autism linked to lack of key nutrient

by  /  5 January 2017

A mutation that prevents some amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, from entering the brain may lead to autism.

1 Comment
December 2016
Illustrations by Bee Johnson
Features / Special Reports / 2016: Year in review

From temperature to toys, strange stimuli skew rodent results

26 December 2016

Interpreting mouse and rat behavior is tricky because of the hidden factors that can influence experiments.

0 Comments
Unfamiliar faces: Baby monkeys that grow up to be loners show no reaction when a new monkey appears in a photo.
News

Solitary monkeys missed social cues as infants

by  /  21 December 2016

Adult monkeys that spend most of their time alone struggled as infants to recognize faces.

0 Comments
Rodney Brooks / Getty Images
News

Some people in ‘failed’ drug trial for autism showed benefit

by  /  14 December 2016

An experimental drug called arbaclofen improved autism features in about 13 percent of people who took it in a shuttered clinical trial.

0 Comments
Gene acrobatics: Detailing how DNA loops around protein can reveal roles for genetic variants that fall outside of genes.
News

Map of brain’s DNA loops holds clues to autism genetics

by  /  8 December 2016

A new chart of DNA’s three-dimensional structure reveals genomic regions that control distant genes during development.

1 Comment
China syndrome: Researchers have sequenced  risk genes for autism in a group of people in the Shandong province.Jung-Pang Wu / Getty Images
News

Study in China solidifies list of genes tied to autism

by  /  1 December 2016

Harmful mutations in autism genes crop up in Chinese individuals about as often as they do in people of European ancestry.

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November 2016
Animation and data visualization by Nicholas Rapp
News

Despite setbacks, fragile X drugs file into clinical trials

by  /  30 November 2016

Our infographic displays efforts to develop treatments for fragile X syndrome. So far, none of them have passed muster in clinical trials.

0 Comments
Black mouse in part shadow
News

Mutation tied to autism deprives male mice of their sleep

by  /  23 November 2016

A DNA deletion linked to autism causes male mice, but not females, to have trouble falling asleep.

1 Comment
Brain boost: Treatments for Rett syndrome could grow a brain region that coordinates movement.Credit: Science Source
News

Autism treatments may normalize brain volume in adult mice

by  /  17 November 2016

The effects of autism mutations on brain volume might be reversible, even in a mature brain.

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