“It was an auspicious start to the new year: On Jan. 1, neuroscientist Lauren Orefice officially made the jump from postdoctoral researcher in the lab of HMS neurobiologist David Ginty to assistant professor in the Department of Genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
As her lab gets up and running, Orefice spoke with myHMS about exploring the underpinnings of touch sensitivity in autism spectrum disorders. She also discussed her canine “intern” and why it’s important to explore new areas as a researcher.”
August 3, 2018
"The Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation seeks to honor determined, creative young scientists who are leading the way for the next generation of medical breakthroughs," said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. "This year's accomplished winners are working in mental health and neurological disorders; critical areas of research with a profound need for better therapeutic interventions. We hope they will serve as inspiration to other potential young scientists who have ideas that can improve our world."
BY NICHOLETTE ZELIADT / 12 NOVEMBER 2017
“The findings suggest that some features of autism arise from malfunctioning neurons outside the brain and spinal cord, says Lauren Orefice, a research fellow in David Ginty’s lab at Harvard University. They also hint that treatments targeting these peripheral neurons could help to ease some features of the condition.”
“This year, as we do every year, we asked scientists to help us choose the 10 most ‘notable’ autism papers — ones that transformed the field in some significant way.
The final selection highlights several advances in the field. Researchers are homing in on immune molecules that may play a role in autism risk. And new tools, from genetically engineered animals to massive genetic databases, will be a boon to future research.
Orefice L. et al. Cell 166, 299-313 (2016): The anxiety and trouble with social skills seen in people with autism stem largely from neurons outside the brain that govern touch.”
“A study finds that deficits in touch-sensing somatosensory neurons contribute to social interaction and anxiety phenotypes in mouse models of autism and Rett syndrome. These findings suggest that some core symptoms of autism might originate from aberrant development or function of the peripheral nervous system.”
ScienceDaily / June 9, 2016
“Autism spectrum disorders are generally thought to be caused by deficits in brain development, but a study in mice now suggests that at least some aspects of the disorder -- including how touch is perceived, anxiety, and social abnormalities -- are linked to defects in another area of the nervous system, the peripheral nerves found throughout the limbs, digits, and other parts of the body that communicate sensory information to the brain.”
Nature Reviews Neuroscience
By Darren Yates / July 7, 2016
“The new study supports this thinking and suggests that sensory sensitivity directly drives social difficulties, at least in some mice. It also hints that treatments aimed at the peripheral nervous system — the set of neurons that connect the brain and spinal cord to limbs and organs — could ease this sensitivity and possibly even social problems and anxiety.”
Autism may stem—in part—from a disordered sense of touch
Science / Sciencemag.org