The following is an archive of articles that have been removed from the Science News page. We hope you will find this collection useful as a historical reference:
A new study by an international group of scientists describes a protein complex that is affected by genetic mutations implicated in autism spectrum disorders. The research team, including scientists from the University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, details the neuroligin family of proteins, which are encoded by genes known to be mutated in certain patients with autism. These affected neuroligin proteins alter synaptic neurotransmission, and may account for impairments in development, social interaction and communication. This study was funded in part by Cure Autism Now, and will be published in the December 20 issue of Neuron.
A new study released today by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology adds evidence that therapeutics targeting a particular signaling protein may be a viable strategy for treating symptoms of Fragile X. The fact that scientists are learning how to alter brain circuits relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders can rapidly enhance our understanding of autism as well.
The 24th Annual International Neurotoxicology Conference was held in San Antonio on November 10-14, with Autism Speaks helping to sponsor the event. This year's theme was entitled "Environmental Etiologies of Neurological Disorders." On the final day of the conference, a symposium entitled "Oxidative Stress in Autism - Cause or Consequence?" drew over 60 participants. The session chair, Isaac Pessah, Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis, lead the plenary session and presented data from his CAN/Autism Speaks Environmental Innovator Award.
Autism Speaks to Host Symposium on the Development of Novel Neuropharmacological Therapeutics for Autism
Autism Speaks today announced that it will host a research symposium on the Development of Novel Neuropharmacological Therapeutics for Autism on December 14, 2007, as a satellite symposium of the 46th annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) in Boca Raton, Fla. The symposium is associated with the main ACNP annual meeting (December 9-13).
Can fever lessen symptoms of autism? A new study in Pediatrics reports that improvements include increases in alertness, decreases in self-stimulatory behavior, and for some, more coherent language. The new study marks the first attempt to systematically document such a "fever effect" in children with autism.
Society for Neuroscience Conference Spotlights Progress in Autism Research
Each year scientists interested in the workings of the brain gather at the Society for Neuroscience conference. In early November, the city of San Diego welcomed more than 31,000 attendees from around the globe for the conference. Just a few years ago, research presentations on autism were quite sparse. An impressive trend has taken place since then, with the 2007 conference showcasing more than 200 Autism Spectrum Disorder presentations.
Autism Tissue Program Scientists Present Exciting Research Findings at the 2007 Society for Neuroscience Conference
At the SfN conference this month, with over 31,000 neuroscience attendees, rows and rows of posters were displayed with compelling research findings on cell biology, the impact of brain chemicals, genetics, and the immune system which all contribute to our understanding of the causes of autism and pave the way to treatment interventions. The findings submitted here are samples of the important progress made in autism brain tissue research.
The Clinical Trials Network is pleased to announce the addition of four new participating centers for its on-going trial, the Study of Fluoxetine in Autism (SOFIA). The study will include more than 100 children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to confirm the effectiveness of Neuropharm's custom-designed product NPL-2008, a proprietary preparation of fluoxetine, in reducing certain core symptoms of ASD.
New data from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), a project collecting information online from families of children with ASDs all over the United States, show that children with ASDs tend to be taller than expected for their age, and heavier than expected for their height, compared to typical peers.
The Autism Tissue Program's Tissue Advisory Board recently approved five new projects. Principal Investigators for these studies will undertake the most comprehensive analysis of brain tissue to date. These studies highlight the use of donated brain tissue to explore new and provocative hypotheses about the causes of autism and shape thinking about treatment strategies.
Autism is a feature of multiple developmental disorders. As devastating as this unfortunate commonality is, it can be used to the advantage of autism researchers and the many families who desperately want a treatment for their childrens' autism. This is why Autism Speaks continues to fund studies in "model" disorders such as Fragile X and Rett syndrome.
Previous research has mapped out the location, connections, and wiring of the entire nervous system of the C. elegans roundworm, thus providing a unique model to better understand the neurobiological basis of sex-differences in the developing nervous system. In this study, University of Rochester researchers Douglas Portman, Ph.D., and Kyung-Hwa Lee, have focused on sensory stimuli, as children with autism often are hypersensitive to sensory overload.
The November 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry contains seven autism-related articles, along with a commentary by Autism Speaks Scientific Advisory Committee member Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D. Two of these articles tentatively identify immunological cell adhesion molecules and prenatal body size, as measured by ultrasound, as biological markers for autism. Identifying such markers is crucial for detecting autism earlier, before behavioral signs are evident.
The National Institutes of Health will intensify its efforts to find the causes of and identify new treatments for autism through a new research program - The Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE).
Two new reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics will help pediatricians recognize autism spectrum disorders earlier and guide families to effective interventions.
A prepublication copy of the workshop proceedings of the IOM's “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research”, held on April 18-19, 2007, is now available online.
Autism Consortium Releases Data on Genes Involved in Autism to Researchers Worldwide
The Autism Consortium, a group of researchers, clinicians and families dedicated to accelerating research and enhancing clinical care for autism, announced that it has completed the first genome scan for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) through its Autism Gene Discovery Project and has released the reference data set to a database that autism researchers around the world can use.
New research by Antonio Persico, M.D. and a team of international scientists has found that a large body size—in addition to a large head—is associated with autism. They also found that this group of individuals had a higher incidence of immune disorders. This research takes an important step toward defining subtypes within the autism spectrum, which will help pinpoint the cause of and appropriate treatments for autism.
The October issue of Brain Pathology highlights the resources available to researchers, including the Autism Tissue Program, in understanding and ameliorating autism. The publication is intended to recruit scientists with crucial areas of expertise and perspectives in the fields of pathology and neurobiology to the research effort.
Using pregnant mice as a model system, researchers at the California Institute of Technology have identified interleukin-6 as an immune system signaling molecule that, when present in high doses during pregnancy, may lead to abnormal brain development and neurobehavioral disorders such as autism in the offspring.
$8.4 million in NIH funding will double the number of families in the AGRE database and expand the data beyond genetic and clinical profiles to include phenomics, the systematic study of the outward physical and behavioral characteristics of autism.
Scientists from the University of Western Ontario say compounds produced in the digestive system have been linked to autistic-type behavior in laboratory settings, potentially demonstrating that what autistic children eat can alter their brain function.
The Advanced Studies in Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins has produced a new video directed at general pediatricians and other primary caregivers who are not familiar with how to identify, refer or treat children with autism spectrum disorders.
New Thimerosal Study Published In New England Journal of Medicine
A new study entitled "Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years" has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 357 no. 13.
Journal Makes Baby Siblings Research Consortium Papers Open to Public
The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders has made the BSRC papers from its "Special Issue: Early Autism Phenotype" available for public viewing.
A team of researchers at the University of Texas' Southwestern Medical Center has genetically engineered mice with a genetic mutation that has been found in some people with autism. These mice may offer researchers a new means for studying how specific defects in brain development might lead to autism.
Dr. Manuel Casanova, Autism Speaks and ATP Researcher, Organizes "Cortical Modularity in Autism" Conference
The goal of this symposium is to provide a cohesive forum on the latest anatomical approaches to understanding the basic components of cortical modularity and their involvement in different pathological states, including autism. The conference will be held October 12-14, 2007 in Louisville, KY.
A recent publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported a possible connection between pesticide exposure and autism in central California. The study used multiple databases to both identify candidate exposures and analyze the relationship between the exposure and ASD.
Only three months after its launch, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) has been cited in its first major research publication. A team of researchers, led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has published a paper in the July 31, 2007 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which describes a unified genetics model that predicts two different risk patterns for autism. The model is based on earlier evidence that identified spontaneous mutations, new mutations in the germ line of a parent, as occurring more frequently in families with no known history of autism as compared with families where there is a clear pattern of genetic transmission.
Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute published a study this week showing that autism can be diagnosed in children as young as one year old.
NIH Scientists Discover Correlation Between Growth Hormone Levels and Autism
Researchers at NIH discovered an increase in growth-related hormones, weight, height and head size in autistic boys as compared to typically developing boys.
Through the use of explicit instruction, researchers at UCLA were able to elicit an increased response in key regions of the brain in autistic boys.
As a result of mapping the structure of the protein complex implicated in autism spectrum disorders, a research team led by scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has discovered how particular genetic mutations affect this complex and contribute to the developmental abnormalities found in children with autism. Their work, published as the cover article in the June issue of the journal Structure, should help scientists pinpoint the consequences of other genetic abnormalities associated with the disorder.
Novel Autism Susceptibility Gene Identified
Gene Important to Melatonin Synthesis is Mutated in Some Individuals with Autism
A team of scientists at the Pasteur Institute, led by Cure Autism Now funded researcher Thomas Bourgeron, has published a study in Molecular Psychiatry which identifies a new autism susceptibility gene, known as ASMT, which is involved in the production of melatonin from serotonin. The researchers studied a region shared by the X and Y chromosomes called the pseudoautosomal region 1 (PAR1). Deletions of the PAR1 region had been previously reported in patients with autism spectrum disorders, but the causative gene(s) were not identified.
New funding opportunities are available for the Autism Spectrum Disorder from the Department of Defense Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program. Some of the awards are specifically designed for a broad spectrum of investigators beyond those already mentioned, such as the fields of epidemiology, immunology, education, nutrition, psychology, psychiatry, etc, to focus their research on autism spectrum disorders.
A recent article by Abraham Reichenberg and co-workers based on Israeli births in the 1980's reported a significant association between paternal age at birth and a child's risk for developing autism. The study reported that as paternal age increased, so did the risk of autism spectrum disorder.
The promise of improved understanding of potential environmental factors in autism was the focus of a day-and-a-half-long workshop organized in Washington, D.C., by The Institute of Medicine on April 18-19, 2007. Entitled “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research,” the gathering focused on emerging technologies, new and existing infrastructure, and interdisciplinary research approaches necessary to forge collaborations between basic and clinical researchers.
Researchers gathered in Seattle from May 3-5 to assess the state of autism science. The conference was attended by more than 900 scientists, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, geneticists, neuroscientists, educators and parents, and drew participants from 30 countries around the world, including Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel and Japan. Autism Speaks was a primary sponsor of the meeting along with Cure Autism Now (CAN), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Autism Society of America (ASA).
The cause and treatment of autism spectrum disorders was the focus of two dedicated sessions at the annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology, held in Charlotte, N.C., in March 2007. The first autism-related session offered an overview of the role of the environment in autism while a second session focused on the use and efficacy of chelation in heavy metal poisoning and relationship to autism spectrum disorder.
The April issue of Discover magazine features an article entitled "Autism: It's Not Just in the Head" by reporter Jill Neimark. The story provides an analysis of a few of the latest developments and concepts in autism research. Many of the scientists and projects discussed the the article were funded by Autism Speaks, Cure Autism Now (CAN) and the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR).
ITA Special Interest Group
CAN and Autism Speaks sponsor "Interactive Technologies for Autism," a Special Interest Group at ACM Computer-Human Interaction conference.
Pat Levitt Awarded Cozzarelli Prize
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has awarded one of six Cozzarelli Prizes for an outstanding PNAS paper published in 2006 to Dr. Pat Levitt from Vanderbilt University for his paper entitled, "A genetic variant that disrupts MET transcription is associated with autism."
The Autism Genome Project Consortium believes the identification of susceptibility genes will provide profound new insight into the basis of autism offering a route to breakthroughs in diagnosis and new treatments in support of families.
Journal Spotlights Autism Speaks-Funded Research
The January 2007 issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, dedicated to the “The Very Early Autism Phenotype,” includes 14 scientific manuscripts that describe ongoing research examining early signs of children later diagnosed with autism , and prospective studies on “at risk” infant siblings of children with autism. The research works to identify and ascertain early signs and behavioral impairments with the goal of identifying autism at the youngest age to make early intervention possible and effective.
New research has found that the genetic mutation responsible for Rett Syndrome can be reversed pharmacologically in mice.
Cure Autism Now Holds Annual Autism Research Summit Meeting
Meeting Tackles the Role of the Immune System in Autism.
Cure Autism Now Announces 2007 Pilot Project and Young Investigator Grants
Each Fall the Cure Autism Now Science Program advisory boards meet to review the latest round of Young Investigator and Pilot Project grants for the upcoming year. In 2006, our tenth year of offering these awards, Cure Autism Now received a record number of grant requests. Looking at our grant program overall, the number of applications has quadrupled in a mere two years, providing a stunning index of the intensity of the increased focus on autism within the research community.
Cure Autism Now announces the upcoming release of a Request for Applications (RFA) for its Autism Treatment Network, a network of treatment and research centers dedicated to improving medical care for children and adolescents with autism.
An international team of researchers headed by Thomas Bourgeron, Ph.D., has identified a set of mutations in a gene called SHANK3. Dr. Bourgeron's research team associated the SHANK3 mutations with autism spectrum disorders in a study funded by Cure Autism Now and published in this month in the journal Nature Genetics.