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
Brain boost: A virus that delivers pieces of RNA (green) to cells boosts expression of the FOXG1 gene (red) in a mouse brain.

New approach may treat autism by dialing up genes

by  /  26 January 2017

Injecting tiny pieces of RNA into the brain may someday serve as a therapy for certain forms of autism.

Illustration by Masha Manapov

New method aims to quantify ‘camouflaging’ in autism

by  /  19 January 2017

A combination of multiple diagnostic tests may gauge the extent to which adults with autism attempt to blend in.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Rodney Brooks / Getty Images

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.

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

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

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.

November 2016
Animation and data visualization by Nicholas Rapp

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.


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