Powell's autism study among top 2009 publications

A study into the mechanisms of autism, co-written by Dr. Craig Powell, assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry, has been named one of the top 10 publications of 2009 by the funding and advocacy foundation Autism Speaks.

The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Powell and colleagues at Stanford University studied mice lacking a protein called neurexin 1-alpha and found that they displayed some characteristics of human autism. Neurexins, found in connections between nerves, physically link to another class of proteins called neuroligins, which are also implicated in human autism.

Dr. Powell recently found that mutations in one form of neuroligin can also cause autism-like symptoms.

Each year, New York-based Autism Speaks recognizes 10 basic, clinical and social studies related to autism. This is the second time Autism Speaks has recognized this research group.