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Take Action in April

Abstract: 

Awareness of autism is no longer enough. We need to take action everyday in April. Visit the Autism Awareness Month page under the Get Involved section to learn more!

Awareness of autism is no longer enough. We need to take action everyday in April. Visit the Autism Awareness Month page under the Get Involved section to learn more!

Clinical trials of new treatments for Fragile X are accepting participants

Source: 
FRAXA Research Foundation
Date Published: 
March 22, 2012
Abstract: 

Experimental new drugs, AFQ056 (an mGluR5 antagonist from Novartis) and STX209 (arbaclofen from Seaside Therapeutics) are in large scale trials.

New Data Show Children With Autism Bullied Three Times More Frequently Than Their Unaffected Siblings

Source: 
MarketWatch
Date Published: 
March 26, 2012
Abstract: 

Today, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), www.ianproject.org , the nation's largest online autism research initiative and a project of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, reports preliminary results of the first national survey to examine the impact of bullying on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The results show that 63 percent of children with ASD have been bullied at some point in their lives. These children, who are sometimes intentionally "triggered" into meltdowns or aggressive outbursts by peers, are bullied three times more frequently than their siblings who do not have ASD.

Newly Published Genetics/Brain Tissue Study Will Help Refine the Search for Specific Early Genetic Markers of Risk of Autism in Babies and Toddlers

Source: 
PLoS Genetics
Date Published: 
March 22, 2012
Year Published: 
2012
Abstract: 

A new study of autism published today in PLoS Genetics has discovered abnormal gene activity and gene deletions in the same brain region that also has a 67% overabundance of brain cells. This region – the prefrontal cortex—is involved in social, emotional, communication and language skills. The finding brings new understanding of what early genetic abnormalities lead to excess brain cells and to the abnormal brain wiring that cause core symptoms in autism. Importantly, the study also shows that gene activity abnormalities in autism change across the lifespan.

By Dr. Eric Courchesne

A new study of autism published today in PLoS Genetics (Age Dependent Brain Gene Expression and Copy Number Anomalies in Autism Suggest Distinct Pathological Processes at Young Versus Mature Ages) has discovered abnormal gene activity and gene deletions in the same brain region that also has a 67% overabundance of brain cells.  This region – the prefrontal cortex—is involved in social, emotional, communication and language skills. The finding brings new understanding of what early genetic abnormalities lead to excess brain cells and to the abnormal brain wiring that cause core symptoms in autism. Importantly, the study also shows that gene activity abnormalities in autism change across the lifespan.

The research is one of the first to focus on gene activity inside the young autistic brain, and is the first to examine how gene expression activity changes across the lifespan in autism.  It is also one of the largest postmortem studies of autism to date. This close-up look inside the brain uncovered the presence of abnormal levels of activity in genes (“gene expression”) and gene defects (deletions of portions of DNA sequences) that control the number of brain cells and their growth and pattern of organization in the developing prefrontal cortex. The abnormal gene activity occurred in several networks that are important during prenatal brain development (cell cycle, neurogenesis, DNA damage detection and response, apoptosis and survival networks). This seems to rule out a number of current speculations about postnatal causes of autism and, combined with the new evidence of a 67% excess of prefrontal brain cells, points instead to prenatal causal events in a majority of cases.

The study’s direct examination of both mRNA and DNA from the same frontal cortex region in each individual is also a unique approach to discovering the genetics of abnormal brain development in autism.  The combined mRNA and DNA results indicate that a large and heterogeneous array of gene and gene expression defects disrupt prenatal processes that are critical to early prefrontal cortex formation. “Although DNA defects vary from autistic case to case, the diverse genetic deletions seem to underlie a relatively common biological theme, hitting a shared set of gene pathways that impact cell cycle, DNA damage detection and repair, migration, neural patterning and cell differentiation,” according to the study.  Importantly, the set of functional gene pathways identified by the study’s direct analyses of autistic brain tissue are consistent with those identified by previous studies that analyzed copy number variations in living autistic patients.

A second major discovery in this study is that the pattern of abnormal gene activity changes across the lifespan in autism. Thus, in adults with autism, the study found abnormal activity in genes involved in remodeling, repair, immune response and signaling. This raises opportunities for new research directions that ask whether and how such later alterations in genetic activity impact brain structure and function.  A hope is that perhaps this later, second stage of unusual genetic activity we detected in adults with autism has something to do with enhancing adaptive connections and pruning back earlier maladaptive connections.  Further research needs to better understand the impact of those later changes in genetic activity.

Findings in the new study will help refine the search for specific early genetic markers of risk of autism in babies and toddlers.  Next steps include identifying what causes the altered genetic activity at early stages of development, when nerve cells in prefrontal cortex arise and the first steps in creating brain circuitry are being taken.  Knowledge of these specific patterns of abnormal gene activity may also give rise to future studies that search for medical interventions that target abnormal gene activity in an age-specific fashion.

Autism Science Foundation Announces IMFAR Travel Grant Recipients

Abstract: 

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2012 IMFAR Travel Grants. ASF will make 12 awards to autism stakeholders to cover expenses related to attending the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Toronto, Canada in May 2012. After the conference, grant recipients will share what they have learned with families in their local communities or online.

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2012 IMFAR Travel Grants.   ASF will make 12 awards to autism stakeholders to cover expenses related to attending the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Toronto, Canada in May 2012. After the conference, grant recipients will share what they have learned with families in their local communities or online.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Catherine Blackwell - Sibling
  • Debra Dunn – Parent, Center for Autism Research at CHOP
  • Eric Hogan - Self Identified Individual with Autism
  • Eshan Hoque – PhD Candidate, MIT
  • Kadi Lichsinger - Parent
  • Marjorie Madfis - Parent
  • Jon Shestack – Parent, Founder of Cure Autism Now
  • Mark Shen – PhD Candidate, UC Davis MIND Institute
  • Melissa Shimek - Self Identified Individual with Autism
  • Meghan Swanson – PhD Candidate, Hunter College/City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Meagan Thompson – PhD Candidate, Boston University
  • Emily Willingham – Parent , Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Blog

IMFAR is an annual scientific meeting, convened each spring, to share the latest scientific findings in autism research and to stimulate research progress in understanding the nature, causes, and treatments for autism spectrum disorders. IMFAR is the annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).

“We are delighted to bring so many autism stakeholders to IMFAR so they can share their real world  experience with scientists,” said Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation. “Our travel grant program has become more and more popular over the past three years and we are thrilled to be able to increase the number of awards offered this year.”

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) is a scientific and professional organization devoted to advancing knowledge about autism spectrum disorders. Founded in 2001, INSAR runs the annual scientific meeting – the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR)– and publishes the research journal “Autism Research.”

Mouse Model Provides Clues to Autism

Source: 
PsychCentral
Date Published: 
March 22, 2012
Abstract: 

Vanderbilt scientists report that a disruption in serotonin transmission in the brain may be a contributing factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other behavioral conditions.

Autism Science Foundation Announces IMFAR Travel Grant Recipients

Date Published: 
March 22, 2012
Abstract: 

The Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, today announced the recipients of its 2012 IMFAR Travel Grants. ASF will make 12 awards to autism stakeholders to cover expenses related to attending the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Toronto, Canada in May 2012. After the conference, grant recipients will share what they have learned with families in their local communities or online.

(March 22, 2012--New York, NY)-- The Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, today announced the recipients of its 2012 IMFAR Travel Grants.   ASF will make 12 awards to autism stakeholders to cover expenses related to attending the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Toronto, Canada in May 2012. After the conference, grant recipients will share what they have learned with families in their local communities or online.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Catherine Blackwell - Sibling
  • Debra Dunn – Parent, Center for Autism Research at CHOP
  • Eric Hogan - Self Identified Individual with Autism
  • Eshan Hoque – PhD Candidate, MIT
  • Kadi Lichsinger - Parent
  • Marjorie Madfis - Parent
  • Jon Shestack – Parent, Founder of Cure Autism Now
  • Mark Shen – PhD Candidate, UC Davis MIND Institute
  • Melissa Shimek - Self Identified Individual with Autism
  • Meghan Swanson – PhD Candidate, Hunter College/City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Meagan Thompson – PhD Candidate, Boston University
  • Emily Willingham – Parent , Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Blog

IMFAR is an annual scientific meeting, convened each spring, to share the latest scientific findings in autism research and to stimulate research progress in understanding the nature, causes, and treatments for autism spectrum disorders. IMFAR is the annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).

“We are delighted to bring so many autism stakeholders to IMFAR so they can share their real world  experience with scientists,” said Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation. “Our travel grant program has become more and more popular over the past three years and we are thrilled to be able to increase the number of awards offered this year.”

The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides funding directly to scientists and organizations conducting & disseminating autism research.  ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. Learn more about the Autism Science Foundation at www.autismsciencefoundation.org

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) is a scientific and professional organization devoted to advancing knowledge about autism spectrum disorders. Founded in 2001, INSAR runs the annual scientific meeting – the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR)-- and publishes the research journal “Autism Research.”

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Contact Info:    

Dawn Crawford
Autism Science Foundation
dcrawford@autismsciencefoundation.org

Understanding Why Autistic People May Reject Social Touch

Source: 
Time Magazine
Date Published: 
March 20, 2012
Abstract: 

Now, a new study offers insight into why some people shrug off physical touches and how families affected by autism may learn to share hugs without overwhelming an autistic child’s senses.

Mothers of Autistic Children Earn 56% Less Income, Study Says

Source: 
CBS News
Date Published: 
March 19, 2012
Abstract: 

On average, families with a child who has autism earn 28% less than those of a child without a health limitation; nearly $18,000 less per year.

Bone-marrow Transplant Reverses Rett Syndrome in Mice

Source: 
Nature Magazine
Date Published: 
March 17, 2012
Abstract: 

A bone-marrow transplant can treat a mouse version of Rett syndrome, a severe autism spectrum disorder that affects roughly 1 in 10,000–20,000 girls born worldwide (boys with the disease typically die within a few weeks of birth).