Researchers at UNC have discovered that problems with a key group of enzymes known as topoisomerases can have profound effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder. Researchers believe this finding represents a great step forward in the search for environmental factors behind autism.
SFARI's annual RFA will provide funding for investigators conducting bold, creative and rigorous research into the underlying biology, causes and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. SFARI will consider proposals in diverse areas, including genetics, molecular mechanisms, circuits, anatomy, sensory perception, cognition, behavior, translation and therapeutics.
You may access this RFA and accompanying guidelines here. Letters of intent should be submitted online and are due 11 October 2013. Full applications are due 14 February 2014. Final funding decisions should be made before June 2014.
About one fourth of people with autism are minimally verbal or nonverbal. Early intervention programs have been helping children develop language skills, but researchers say that seemingly unrelated issues such as motor skills and joint attention may hold the key to communication development.
A 2004 study from the Journal of Music Therapy found that music in interventions used with children and teens with ASD can improve social behaviors, increase focus and attention, increase communication attempts (vocalizations, verbalizations, gestures, and vocabulary), reduce anxiety, and improve body awareness and coordination. Read all about it in our newest blog post written by Marcela De Vivo.
Children with autism who are older than 13 years and have low intelligence are at the greatest risk of having epilepsy, says one of the largest epidemiological studies on the issue to date. The presence of epilepsy among the general population is around two percent; the prevalence of epilepsy among people with autism is around thirty percent. This study breaks down occurrence of epilepsy by age, with children ages 13 to 17 having the highest prevalence.
For adolescents with autism or other developmental disorders, the transition to adulthood can be especially difficult. A large study in the U.K. is researching this transition period when this group is aging out of pediatric healthcare services and entering the adult system.
Scientists at the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Autism Science Foundation to study Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), a promising treatment for subtypes of autism. Clinical Director at the Seaver Autism Center, Dr. Alex Kolevzon, says, "IGF-1 has the potential to be effective in treating Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and other types of autism spectrum disorder. We are very pleased that the NIH and the Autism Science Foundation have recognized this by providing us funding to continue our work in bringing this medication to our patients.”
Hear more from Dr. Alex Kolevzon on the ASF YouTube channel here.
Children who have an older sibling with autism are seven times more likely than other kids to be diagnosed with autism themselves, according to a new study from Denmark. A higher-than-average risk was also detected for children who have a half-sibling with ASD, especially if the two children had the same mother.
Play is important to children's development, and a new study has found the types of play that appeal most to children with ASD: play that provides strong sensory feedback, cause-and-effect results, and repetitive motions. Incorporating this type of play in recreational facilities, after-school programs, and playgrounds encourages inclusion and social interaction with peers.