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CRISPR therapy may reverse autism gene mutation effects in mice: study (spectrumnews.org)
124 points by daegloe 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments

ASD isn't really a single condition. It is actually a vast array of different conditions, with a wide array of different genetic and environmental causes. This therapy is only treating one single genetic cause of ASD; most people diagnosed with ASD, their symptoms are not due to this gene. In fact, many cases of ASD probably aren't due to a single gene at all, but a complex interaction of multiple factors, both genetic and environmental.

The big problem with ASD research is ASD's lack of validity (see [1]'s conclusion "The findings reviewed indicate that the ASD diagnosis lacks biological and construct validity"). How do we know that ASD is a condition which really exists in nature, as opposed to simply an arbitrary grouping of symptoms with disparate unrelated causes? Honestly, we don't know that at all, and as this paper argues, there are good reasons to believe the later rather than the former is true. Researchers have been searching for years for evidence for the former proposition, and nothing convincing has been found; at some point, the logical conclusion is you can't find what doesn't exist to be found.

[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40489-016-0085-x

My daughter was diagnosed with Autism at 16 months. Just this year (she is 6 now) we found a genetic cause (SCN2A, the one mentioned here). We have invested a ton of time and energy into therapies and she is doing very well... I wonder how receiving the diagnosis in reverse would have affected us mentally. I have met others who got genetic results and pushed more into finding a cure. I always felt like any potential "cure" wouldn't be in her lifetime... now I wonder.

CRISPR could ameliorate almost all genetic disease in 1-2 generations (~40-60 years). We're so close in so many ways, now we're just trying to make sure the procedures are safe.

What tests are done to determine genetic cause? This would be really helpful, appreciate your info

We did a genetic test for small number of well known genetic disabilities when she was younger that did not yield a result. Our neurologist then recommended a "whole exome sequencing" a few years later. This is where we found a result.

Insurance is often reluctant to cover this but it's SOMEWHAT affordable (want to say 2-3k with some hospital magic discounts). I can't say it has affected our course of treatment but we were concerned about what other health related issues may be associated with the diagnosis. And it is somewhat promising that a treatment may someday be available.

I would highly recommend pushing for testing. I am told they continually with run your results against know mutations as they find more. So even if you don't get a result today you may someday.

Thank you for the elaborate response, this is helpful

I'm sure there are plenty of people who identify as on the spectrum here on HN; I'd like to ask y'all:

If this were available tomorrow, safe for human applications and without any side-effects other than what it says on the tin: would any of you opt for this?

What are the ethics applications of using a treatment like this on people who are so deeply impacted by autism that they can't meaningfully give consent?

I have two children diagnosed. I'm confident that if I had grown up in the 2000s instead of the 1980s, I would also have been diagnosed. But none of us are debilitated by it, and if you took away the limiting factors, you'd remove much of our personality and interests as well. There's nothing about them or me that I'd trade our identity to get rid of. But I'm not facing the challenges that people with severe autism have, so grain of salt.

I think you're seriously underselling the challenges of even 'high functioning' autism/ASD-1/aspergers.

In this group, the suicide rate is nine times higher than the general population, contributing to a life expectancy 12 years lower. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26541693

As for identifying with the disorder, this is not an uncommon response, but I think it's fraught. It seems a coping mechanism more than a reasoned reflection of how the condition shaped one's life. Understandable, certainly, but also potentially quite misguided.

The suicide rate among LGBTQ is also some outrageous multiple higher than average and in the not to distant past that was also a bona fide psychological diagnosis. You see the intrinsic problem with codifying anything out of the ordinary as a "disorder"?

That's a slippery argument. At the low functioning end of the autism spectrum are behaviors like tantrums, compulsive violence towards self and others, and behaviors like fecal smearing. We also need to be careful not to ignore clearly disordered behavior. That is not compassionate towards the afflicted, either. If a disorder can't be labeled a disorder, the patient cannot be treated.

> If a disorder can't be labeled a disorder, the patient cannot be treated.

It is perfectly possible to seek treatment for personality traits that are not a disorder but still impact your life significantly.

> You see the intrinsic problem with codifying anything out of the ordinary as a "disorder"?

Isn't that just the definition of the word "dis-order"?

I'm curious, what's your relationship with autism? You're replying to someone who indicated theirs, and shared their experience, in a fairly dismissive way.

Suicide rate doesn't tell you what you want, as the sibling comment about the comparison to LGBTQ+ people points out. My reason for posting this comment is to suggest that anyone reading take a look at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_model_of_disability

The reason I say I would have been diagnosed by today’s standards is because I attended my children’s screenings, read their diagnoses, and did additional research. The definition and diagnostic criteria for autism were intentionally broadened so more kids would get identified and led to early interventions.

I’m not underselling anyone else’s experience - I’ve seen some of the extreme personal and family difficulties people with severe autism face. I’m saying that for me and my family, we have been well equipped to deal with the difficulties it presents, from a healthcare, social support, family support, and financial perspective.

I do not at all identify with the disorder, and we struggle with the degree to describe our kids as well. I was trying to say that a) I am me and I know and like myself, b) by the current diagnostic standards, I believe I would have been diagnosed as a child, and c) I don’t know how much changing b would affect a.

My "high-functioning" autism confers several difficulties and a few unique advantages. I've developed enough coping methods to smooth over the former to a point that I don't feel a cure would be on-net beneficial to me.

However, I have a feeling that the fact I can't choose whether I have autism is the reason why neurotypicals find what I don't/can't mask interesting or endearing rather than annoying. If there was a cure, suddenly I would have a choice, and I think people would have a lot less patience for my symptoms. "Why not just become normal?" I would feel pressured to take the cure.

I wouldn't.

Me being on the spectrum is what gives me the technical advantage over a lot of my peers, and is the reason I can have a stable, high paying job and do the things that I want to do.

And it is not like I am unhappy or struggling from the effects of being on the spectrum, like connecting with people.

Yes, there are definite downsides, but at the same time, Id argue that there are downsides to being too emotional dependent to the point where someone fails to act on logic and reason to a certain extent. In both cases, me and the other person find a way to be happy within the constraints of our lives, accepting the drawbacks as a necessity.

Yes, I completely agree. The 'abilities' I have due to Autism have been advantageous for me creatively and professionally, in spite of social struggles. Those abilities aside, people with ASD tend to have high levels of focus and deep knowledge (on one or several subjects), those traits are as important to identity as social norms. I wonder who I would be post treatment if this were available. Would I remember abilities I had that no longer exist? I was diagnosed late in life, at 40. I am comfortable with who I am and if there were any chance I'd lose myself to 'treatment' it would be a hard no for me.

"If this were available tomorrow, safe for human applications and without any side-effects other than what it says on the tin: would any of you opt for this?"

This is sort of an unrealistic hypothetical that isn't really informative, IMO, for a few reasons mostly attributed to the spectrum of how autism manifests and also that I doubt there is any such thing as "without any side effects".

I think what would be more informative is to ask- if they would be willing to undertake a treatment course for their autism what side effects would they be willing to bear and for how minimal of symptom relief would they be willing to bear for?

EG. Let's say the Cripsr therapy works only on resolving sensory information issues doe to fixing the neurons capacity to process sensory input. In consequence, however, is that the person has a higher likelihood for seizures and, later on, parkinson's. Or, the Crispr therapy works only on resolving neurological pathway issues when it comes to emotional intelligence- the patient will still have to undergo intense occupational therapy in order to learn social skills- worth it? I don't know. I don't have autism. But I think these questions will provide much more insight.

I don't think that's fair.

The hypothetical with no side effects or safety issues means we have to consider the ethical side of "should we 'cure' autism". We have to answer that before any discussion of "what level of side effects are acceptable".

See, for example, the Deaf community's feelings on things like cochlear implants.

The Deaf community's feelings on things like cochlear implants is the perfect example showing that the whole "ethical side" is pointless philosophical babble. How can anyone even think to justify not allowing other people to improve their lives in the name of preserving "a culture"?

The assumption that there are independent physical constraints and ethical side is wrong, because depending on how actually the reality works, the same action can be either the most ethical or most unethical action.

> How can anyone even think to justify not allowing other people to improve their lives in the name of preserving "a culture"?

That was the precise attitude that got us scenarios like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_boarding_schoo... and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolen_Generations.

The important part in the argument above is allowing people to decide for themselves.

The boarding schools were about government "saving" children by not allowing children and their parents to choose.

The people who are unhappy about cochlear implants, want to "save" deaf culture by not allowing some other people to choose for themselves whether they want to be death or not.

So the similarity is the other around.

Cochlear implants do have side effects health-wise and consequences, though. That's precisely what I was thinking of. They are very expensive, destroys any hearing the person may still have, can cause nerve damage, has questionable 'hearing' clarity...

Asking a deaf person "would you cure your deafness if you could with no side effects" ignores the reality that current abilities to 'cure' deafness do come with significant side effects, and people who consider them need to also consider the pros and cons of undergoing the procedure.

In contrary to 'stripping away info to dive into the ethics' you are trying to do, I believe you'll never approach the ethics without the nuances of the actual circumstances people are actually likely to be dealing with.

Some in the Deaf community feel that even without side effects like that, that Deaf children should not receive them. That Deafness is not a disability, just a difference, and that "curing" it would be killing a culture much as raising Native American children in schools that banned their languages and culture did.

"Should we do the procedure at all" comes before "are the side effects of a specific implementation of the procedure worth it".

Its not the choice of the deaf community. Its the choice of the individual and parents. And there are plenty of people who get deaf later in life that may want the treatment so research should continue.

Clearly it should be the choice of the individual (or parents) to receive treatment or not. Why is this even a debate. With any elective treatment, there isn't going to be 100% adoption.

It's not entirely about choice. It's about attitudes of medical professionals. Imagine you have a deaf child, have no experience with Deaf culture, and a professional convinces you to give your child a CI. Yeah, obviously it's the parents' choice. But what are they compelled to choose.

No, it should not be the choice of the parents - the parents should not be able to force an unethical treatment onto their child.

If this becomes a thing, why would society accept autistic people, rather than telling us to undergo treatment that we don't want to make us more like them?

Some parents feed their kids growth hormone just so they don't end up being too short. Certainly there's nothing wrong with being short, but we do this for all sorts of things where we know people are at a disadvantage with. We give kids braces, vaccines, etc. How are any of those different? Assuming, it was a healthy and vetted treatment, how would it be different?

What makes a treatment unethical? Parents should be able to treat things that they view as disabilities to their best judgement. That is their responsibility as parents. I'm not comfortable with saying that parents need to be limited in such a way.

At the same time, when we see people that do not vaccine their children that also makes me angry. Perhaps it is a fuzzy line and we need to recognise that this is the case without making too many blanket statements.

> If this becomes a thing, why would society accept autistic people

Society has no requirement to accept autistic people. Some people will be willing to work with them just as they always have and some people might not. That's their choice, just like it is the choice of an autistic person (or maybe their parents! I'm not sure) whether or not to seek treatment. If you feel that being excluded sometimes is a fundamental pressure to seek treatment, I have bad news for you: You will never get along with everyone.

No, it is not the responsibility of parents to force things on their children. Children are not property to be owned and controlled by their parents against the children's will. That we've wound up believing this is honestly embarrassing.

The reason we make parents responsible for their children until a certain age is because we as a collective have judged them incapable of doing so for themselves. I don't know how long it has been for you, but for me it has not been so long that I do not remember being incapable of making big life decisions.

I've never understood why some deaf people feel so strongly about it. The fact that deafness is part of their identity doesn't mean they ought to go around telling others they shouldn't try to hear, especially not so vehemently. I'd consider it roughly equivalent to the really obnoxious fire-and-brimstone evangelicals that yell that you're going to hell if you don't convert. Why do people care so much what others do with their lives?

Because if you're able to hear and they're not able to hear, it means they have a disability. They don't want to consider themselves disabled. I was a transcriptionist for a college when they held a deaf conference, and it was definitely this way. They were angry that they had to mark a disability to receive government assistance, because they felt as though they had no disabilities.

I've never understood this isn't lacking an ability that 95% of the population have basically part of the very definition of disability.

I lack fine motor control, I'm unable to write legibly with a pen, i have issues with spacial perception and regularly fall over pretty much anything, i struggle with any task that requires co-ordination (if you threw a ball at me i'd have maybe a 30% chance of catching it). I also don't have binocular vision (anything thats supposed to be 3d looks the same as the picture to me). Luckily in the age of technology i this has not impaired me significantly but i couldn't claim to not have any kind of disability...

I guess that makes sense, but it strikes me as awfully selfish to try to pressure someone into maintaining a poorer quality of life to fulfill one's own sense of identity. It doesn't say good things about those people, and I would have though they of all people would want the fewest people to suffer what they do.

Because I was so appalled, I asked one of the students to explain it. They said that I was disabled because I can't work in a noisy factory comfortably while they could.

I applaud that part; seeing the upside is admirable and not everyone can do that. What I still don't get is when they get mad when others try to hear again. It just doesn't make sense. My perspective could certainly be off here, but it sounds like someone being mad his neighbor has a fancier car and yelling at him about it.

The problem is that you get hearing people go "well, there's a treatment, why should we change what we're doing to accept deaf people?"

When there's a (potentially invasive/experience-altering) treatment which makes people more able to fit into existing society, that society will often pressure people into receiving that treatment. This is, obviously, rather upsetting, and I imagine a lot of deaf people would rather the treatment didn't exist.

Your perspective suggests you think deaf people are jealous of hearing people. I think it's different. Deaf people have created a bunch of other solutions that don't involve cochlear implants, and a lot of that has been ignored by society at large. (For example, how do you raise a deaf child.)

Also the controversy around cochlear implants is mostly about giving CIs to young humans. It's not that much about "hearing again". (In fact I don't think CIs are as effective later in life.)

And were you able to see one of the other meanings behind "disability", and why deaf people want to avoid that stigma?

I could see their perspective, yes. They also mentioned that they could communicate at a noisy club easily while I couldn't, but that doesn't have much to do with being hearing/deaf but exclusively due to knowing sign language. My conclusion is that they actually are disabled, but no less deserving of respect and love as those who can hear.

I don't trust that you have enough experience with deaf people to make your claim.

The word disability has a lot of meanings and a lot of uses. Only one of them is about getting access to accommodations.

Deaf people absolutely label themselves disabled for the purposes of getting access to accommodations, like you suggest. I think you misunderstood that they're upset about all the other things that are associated with disability. The idea that deafness is "lesser" (e.g. hearing loss) simply does not resonate with most culturally deaf people.

Well they literally have lesser (or more correctly, “fewer”) functioning senses. Like 4 instead of 5 is clearly lesser.

I really hate when emotions get in the way of objective definitions.

Why is it more important to have an objective definition of deafness than it is to understand deaf people's definitions of deafness? The most important difference between deaf people and hearing people, for deaf people, isn't "5-4=1".

I really hate it when objectiveness gets in the way of compassion and respect for human beings and life generally.

Also, of course deaf people agree they cannot hear and have one fewer functioning sense. In some signed languages, the sign for deafness is an open hand, but with one of the fingers flexed (4 of 5).

And I will argue in fact it's hearing people who get "emotional" about the idea that deaf people don't care about not hearing. By the way, "5-4=1" is not the most important difference for hearing people either. Hearing people will talk about hearing birds songs and stuff.

I worked with them for nine years, so shrug. I'm not sure how much experience you require for me to have to make my claim.

Being deaf or autistic is not a religion where apostasy is forbidden.

I'm not sure the deaf community's views on cochlear implants are entirely relevant here. There is no 'autistic culture' whereas there is very definitely deaf culture. Also we're not necessarily talking about a straightforward disability. If any of us were offered the ability to gan an extra useful sense then we'd probably take it... If we talk about something that profoundly changes our personality then maybe we'd be a little more hesitant.

Absolutely. Being on the spectrum is socially miserable enough that I'd gladly trade an unpleasant chunk of my personality for it.

I’m soon 40. I like to think I’ve made piece with the world - I pretty much grok most of the idiosyncrasies between myself and the society around me. Statistically I’m way beyond the age when the most important friendships are formed. I’d like to be a little less anxious, but that’s about it. It’s not enough to sign up for experimental neurological treatment. So no, I would not apply this to myself.

I'm no more interested in being made neurotypical than I am in being made right-handed, cisgender, heterosexual, or Christian.

A society that regards people who don't fit in as "defective" is itself defective, and ought to be burned to the ground.

Autism does not only describe people "who don't fit", but also people who would die without someone else caring for them. A society that doesn't regard such people as defective, and doesn't try to help them (when they agree), is simply lying to itself.

I think you lack compassion in your wording. We have evolved as social creatures, and we care for each other.

We depend on each other in millions of ways, in millions of varieties. I would bet you too would die, or have died, without some care at key points in your life. It takes a village to raise a child. I argue it takes one to keep a human alive and healthy too. One piece of content in favor of my point: https://youtu.be/n3Xv_g3g-mA

There's no need for people to be able to survive without care. And yes my society values individualism, but we should be able to critique it, and ask where that emerges from.

> There's no need for people to be able to survive without care.

There is no need, but there should be the option. If we can provide that option to people that want it we should be allowed to. Just because someone feels that it infringes on their core identity does not mean someone else should not be treated for something they feel is a defect. Saying that this needs to be possible is not a lack of compassion, it is the most compassionate choice.

> Saying that this needs to be possible is not a lack of compassion, it is the most compassionate choice.

Pardon my cynicism, but I have no faith in the "compassion" of "normal people". Not when I've spent my whole life being told that I'm defective and need to be fixed. You might not want to force people into treatment, but my experience suggests that you're part of a small, sane minority.

You're not responding to this thread. The conversation isn't about people being allowed to feel defective and seek treatment.

Read again:

> . A society that doesn't regard such people as defective, and doesn't try to help them (when they agree), is simply lying to itself.

I believe that I was responding to you when you implied that sentence (among others) was without compassion. If you have a specific grievance with what I said that doesn't involve something I was quite literally responding to we can discuss that.

The part that isn't compassionate is the part that insists we label certain people as defective.

Your response is about people having the right to label themselves defective.

If you argue that it's compassionate to allow people to live the lives they want to live, that's beautiful and I agree. I am arguing it's NOT compassionate to insist that certain people are defective, especially regardless of how they feel about their own lives.

I mean, the word "defective" alone, c'mon.

The crispr treatment in the article is not simply a way to remove the gene causing some forms of autism, it is also a method to add that same gene. The fact that we are talking only about using it to remove autism shows that everyone knows that some forms of autism give much more disadvantages than advantages and therefore are defects. The problem with autism is that many different things are grouped under the same term and some of them are not that disadvantageous.

> everyone knows that some forms of autism give much more disadvantages than advantages and therefore are defects

No, not everyone knows that. I feel quite humbled by my experience meeting people with "defects", who are proud of their "defects", would not choose to remove their "defects", actively seek out relationships with other "defective" people, and have formed a cultural identity around their "defect", to the extent that they hope their own kids are also "defective", maybe not to the strength that other people hope their kids aren't defective, but at least express a preference.

I hold it as a fundamental, nowadays, that I cannot decide what is and is not defective for other people, especially strangers, and especially people who themselves actively say "I'm not defective!". I rather focus on concrete harm to figure out how to exist in the world, for myself and for others.

I think it does harm to the world to approach all disabilities from a mindset that is focused on "defectiveness". I will take my lead from other people with the relevant disabilities. "Nothing about us without us" is a powerful slogan that guides me to do so.

I don't know whether you identify with any "defective" or defect-adjacent subgroup (since you talk about all the different things that grouped under autism), but I know for sure not everyone is. And so not "everyone knows that some forms of autism give much more disadvantages than advantages". When I try to drill down on what that really means (how would you even determine how to weigh the advantages and disadvantages?), the whole endeavor seems divorced from individual realities and pointless.

Also if you're on the spectrum, if there was a drug that could make someone autistic temporarily, would you recommend it to others?

Not autistic, but bipolar: you can achieve a reasonable simulation of euphoric mania, but that's not quite the same as a lifetime of dealing with that.

It is not the same, but it is equally amazing. Of course euphoric mania has the significant downside of being measurably harmful to your brain in the long term and is thus perhaps not a good comparison.

I wish we lived in Banks' Culture, where this sort of thing was possible. I'd love to see what it's like to be on the spectrum, or what it's like to be gay, or what it's like to have a body of a different gender, or what it's like to be a bat.

I would. I think that being able to experience "emotion independence" in the sense that you can act on things that make sense rather than those that have the best emotional outcome can be good for people.


I have a loving wife and two great kids, good job and a relatively conformtable life. My peace is made, so no, I wouldn't take it.

Hmm, I guess it'd depend on how much my personality, skills and other traits are linked to being on the autistic spectrum. That's the tricky part about these possibilities, we don't really know what someone who is on the spectrum (or for that matter, who has any other type of neurodiversity/psychological condition) would be like without having it. Does someone's interest in say, programming link to their autism/aspergers? Or their aptitude for it in general?

There's always just that ambiguity, and that makes it difficult to decide even without obvious side effects. There are a lot of issues caused by being on the spectrum that I would love to have fixed by some miracle treatment like this, such as difficulties socialising or coping with crowds or strangers, or sensory overload or what not. But I would want certain other aspects of my personality to just vanish at the same time.

> If this were available tomorrow, safe for human applications and without any side-effects other than what it says on the tin: would any of you opt for this?

I think the real question is, if I as a hypothetical parent wanted to help out my newly-diagnosed child as being on the spectrum, I & my spouse would most definitely strongly consider it.

The ethics are an interesting point, but kids don't get to choose parents or their skin color. If I as a parent/caretaker have authority to make this decision, it should be my decision to make (with due consideration of the impact it might cause).

I agree that's the real question! And its answer is informed by the original question.

I don't and can't know what the right answer is. But I hope that if you are faced with this decision or any similar decision, you try to get perspectives of the adults who have lived with whatever diagnosis is at play, like the commentors here. Medical professionals are familiar with only a slice of these things. And the media and the "common" understanding also has only limited or distorted information.

At the moment, it doesn't say much on the tin. So, no.

It may repair typical neuron function, but how does that translate into functional changes in personality and social interaction? Based solely on that article, it looks like we don't really know that even for mice, let alone humans. I, for one, don't care what any treatment might do at the level of neurons--what I would care about is what the expected therapeutic outcomes are, regardless of the biochemical mechanism, and that data is completely missing.

I m sure psychiatry has already answers to the last question

And if i m detectably on the spectrum- yes i would! Not because i hate myself, but to experience the other side. I m kinda surprised that people say no - do they also say no to all recreational drugs? This crispring would be reversible anyway

Single data point here. As someone else already replied, if I'd grown up in the 2000's instead of then 80's, I'd probably have a diagnosis of autism, to some degree at least. I believe I'm somewhere on the spectrum.

I'm an introvert, I'm often quite awkward socially, and frequently just don't "get" other people's way of thought that seem to be obvious to everyone else; if it's not "logical" to me, I just don't understand it. My wife has said I might be autistic numerous times, and family members have suggested it a few times too.

I can only assume this is due to a genetic mutation. If a treatment was available to change this, I would gladly take it - I loathe feeling so alien and alone.

I would probably go and get an assessment in your place, it helped me a lot to understand why I feel alien and alone in some situations. It would also gave me access to resources which made my life easier and my relationships more harmonic. (Also, it's anecdotal, but wifes seems to be very good pinpointing autism)

I posted this response before I saw your thread (reposting here for context).

I have Autism. I don't know how I feel about this. It's exciting, but would a reversal remove advantageous traits of Autism too? There is little information about adults with Autism compared to what's available about adolescents. In my experience much of the info is about living with disabilities associated with Autism. I haven't found any research that focuses on the beneficial aspects of Autism - anecdotally I feel there are abilities of mind across the Autism spectrum that are especially useful, and for some, seemingly super-human. While one may gain some social skills, how much of their unique abilities would be lost to this process?

If I didn't like the result could I go back?

A person with that severity of autism will never be able to consent anyway; parents or guardians should not feel an ethical concern over consenting on their behalf for something like this.

On the other end of the spectrum you have people like my child: he's got social deficits and grapples with emotions, but is in public school and (with ~$25k in therapy a year) is able to function. Under no circumstances should it be anybody's decision but his whether to have such a treatment, in my opinion.

If they're that deeply affected by autism, they almost certainly have a caregiver at that point. I imagine that's the solution - whoever has power of attorney for medical decisions would make the call for them. From there, it's simply a personal decision for the caregiver.

If they've got it light enough that they can handle life in the real world (i.e. can enter contracts for renting an apartment, getting a car loan, etc.), then they can give meaningful consent for themselves.

Even if you changed the gene they would still have all the traits that society calls autism.

The traits that society calls autism are development traits that develop in the psyche over long periods of time.

The actual gene mentioned here does not so to say directly cause autism, opposed to for example a bridge pillar that causes a bridge to float above the ground.

There are many steps (under years of personal development) in between the cause (in this case a gene) and the traits that is the diagnosis.

If it actually works in humans, and I have the gene in question (both of which I doubt are true in actuality), then unequivocally yes, even if the side effects were extremely severe.

> What are the ethics applications of using a treatment like this on people who are so deeply impacted by autism that they can't meaningfully give consent?

What are the ethics of fixing broken bones in infants who can't meaningfully give consent?

For me, no way.

On balance i feel more enabled than disabled. You can argue my perspective is skewed, and i yours.

I wish there was some way to give aut insight to neurotypicals, other than reading PKD on LSD.

For every 'cure' i hear of, i wonder can it be used to mane an NT autistic ?

Also: i suspect a lot of debilitating brain diseases and injuries get misdiagnosed as 'autism' as the criteria are very blunt.

This feels to me like a path to true Idiocracy, functioning autists are vital to technological and scientific progress.

Given that it's a spectrum where on the spectrum would it end up? Neurotypical choleric extraversion or something?

Not all introverts are ‘on the spectrum’.

In a heartbeat.

This is the issue with science journalism: this should not be news - not yet. They should keep working with colleagues and report when the human trials are underway. It doesnt help the general public that these preliminary data are out , and in fact it erodes trust and creates complications. I know scientists are hard pressed to publicise their work for funding, but it should stay within the SFN conference for now

I'm not in favor of managing information flow to the general public so they "trust" the source. What if a member of the public reads this, and learns more about the topic. Is that a bad outcome?

There is too much of it, and it's contradictory. Someone who is interested in SCN2A could scan the abstrats of the SfN conference in a few days to find everything they need. But too much echoing of preliminary results in popular media creates false expectations and contradictions all the time. People absolutely should have access to preliminary scientific literature, just not through the popular press maybe

I have Autism. I don't know how I feel about this. It's exciting, but would a reversal remove advantageous traits of Autism too? There is little information about adults with Autism compared to what's available about adolescents. In my experience much of the info is about living with disabilities associated with Autism. I haven't found any research that focuses on the beneficial aspects of Autism - anecdotally I feel there are abilities of mind across the Autism spectrum that are especially useful, and for some, seemingly super-human. While one may gain some social skills, how much of their unique abilities would be lost to this process?

Elizabeth Moon (fantasy and mil sci fi writer and a former marine) happened to write a book about almost exactly this modification being available: https://www.amazon.com/Speed-Dark-Novel-Elizabeth-Moon-ebook... -- I enjoyed that more than the canonical "Flowers for Algernon"

Oddly enough, Amazon claims the book isn't available.

This is just a useful model. All it's doing is allowing scientist to study the effects of disease and later switch it off again. As a kind of control. Plenty of useful data will come from this model, but the model itself isn't interesting to anyone not into Autism and Molecular Biology.

The title is technically correct in the worst way. Sure, it tells the truth, but it implies a lot of things which are not true.

(in mice)

= in early trials

So, this is a reverse vaccin?

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