Autism News

Large Genetic Deletion Leads to Autism, But Not Always

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 21, 2014
Abstract: 

To characterize people who carry deletions in 16p11.2 and 15q13.3, genetic regions linked to autism, two studies published this summer looked in detail at dozens of people with either deletion. The studies found that deletions in these regions lead to diverse symptoms that only sometimes include autism. The studies were published in the journals Biological Psychiatry and Genetics in Medicine.

Loss of mTOR-Dependent Macroautophagy Causes Autistic-like Synaptic Pruning Deficits

Source: 
Neuron
Date Published: 
August 21, 2014
Abstract: 

As a baby’s brain develops, there is an explosion of synapses, the connections that allow neurons to send and receive signals. But during childhood and adolescence, the brain needs to start pruning those synapses, limiting their number so different brain areas can develop specific functions and are not overloaded with stimuli.

Now a new study suggests that in children with autism, something in the process goes awry, leaving an oversupply of synapses in at least some parts of the brain.

See the full article about this study in the New York Times here

Test Measures Children's Ability to Distinguish Between Faces

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 20, 2014
Abstract: 

People with autism often have trouble recognizing faces, and tend to avoid looking at others' eyes. These deficits may contribute to their difficulty picking up on social cues. An adaptation of an adult face recognition test for children will make it easier to chart the development of children’s abilities, researchers say. The new test is described in a study published in Neuropsychologia.

Age Alters Patterns of Chemical Tags on Sperm DNA

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 18, 2014
Abstract: 

The configuration of methyl tags that modify DNA in sperm change as men get older, according to a study published PLOS Genetics. These alterations may help explain why children of older fathers are at increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism. Researchers at the University of Utah collected sperm from 17 men, once in the 1990s and again in 2008. They found that the distribution of methyl tags, a particular kind of DNA modification, shows relatively consistent changes over time in the sperm. However, the study does not necessarily prove that these altered patterns survive past fertilization or influence the risk of disorders such as autism.

Signaling Imbalance Skews Sensory Responses in Autism Mice

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 11, 2014
Abstract: 

Mice modeling autism have trouble integrating different kinds of sensory information such as sight, sound and touch. A study published in Neuron reports that an imbalance between signals that calm neurons and those that excite them leads to these sensory problems.

Autism Science Foundation Issues New Request for Scientific Grant Proposals

Abstract: 

ASF is inviting applications for pre- and postdoctoral training awards and medical school gap year research training awards from graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders.

Grants will fund pre- and postdoctoral autism research fellowships
and medical school gap year research fellowships

Informational Conference Call: September 15, 2015, 12:00pm et

(August 11, 2014—New York, NY)--The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, today announced that it had issued a new request for scientific proposals. ASF is inviting applications for pre- and postdoctoral training awards and medical school gap year research training awards from graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders. In the past five years, ASF has funded $1.5 million in pre- and postdoctoral grants.

"We have increased our funding for pre- and postdoctoral fellowships every year for the past five years and expect to expand it again this year,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation.  “We are committed to supporting outstanding young investigators who want to dedicate their careers to autism research.”

"We are so grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and who make these grants possible" said Karen London, co-founder of ASF.

The proposed training must be scientifically linked to autism. Autism Science Foundation will consider for training purposes all areas of related basic and clinical research including but not limited to: human behavior across the lifespan (language, learning, communication, social function, epilepsy, sleep, repetitive disorders), neurobiology (anatomy, development, neuro-imaging), pharmacology, neuropathology, genetics, genomics, epigenetics, epigenomics, immunology, molecular and cellular mechanisms, studies employing model organisms and systems, and studies of treatment and service delivery. Applications must be received by November 14, 2014. Awards will be announced in March 2015 for projects beginning July-September 2015.

Additional information about this RFA can be found at http://autismsciencefoundation.org/ ApplyForaGrant.html

The Autism Science Foundation will hold an informational conference call regarding the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and medical school fellowship RFA on September 15, 2014 at 12:00pm ET.  The call will outline best practices for completing the application. Participation on the conference call is NOT required for application.  The call in number is: 866-906-9888 and the participant code is 2574613#

ASF also has an open RFA for Research Mini-Grants of up to $5000 to expand the scope, increase the efficiency and improve final product dissemination of active autism research grants.  Applications for mini-grants are due by September 12, 2014. 

Additional information about the Research Mini-Grant RFA can be found at http://autismsciencefoundation.org/apply-research-mini-grant.

The Autism Science Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization 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.

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation’s grant programs, and to read about projects funded through this mechanism in prior years, visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org

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Contact Info:  
Meredith Gilmer
Autism Science Foundation
mgilmer@autismsciencefoundation.org

 

Language Tool Aims to Measure Children's Conversation Skills

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 6, 2014
Abstract: 

A test designed to characterize natural, spontaneous language use in autism shows solid promise in its first trials in typically developing children. The results were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.The researchers assessed the ease of use and reliability of the test in 180 typically developing children in Michigan, ranging in age from 2 to 5 years. They confirmed that the youngest children can do the various tasks on the test and that the codes developed for the test match the skills of the oldest children. The researchers' goal is to build a baseline of standard scores against which the scores of children with autism or other communication disorders can be compared.

Tools for Autism Screening Must Vary with Language, Culture

Source: 
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 1, 2014
Abstract: 

At its core, autism is the same disorder worldwide. And ideally, it should be possible to identify it consistently and accurately everywhere. But most screening methods for the disorder were developed in the U.K. and U.S., and linguistic and cultural differences can affect their performance elsewhere.

Senate Passes Autism Bill

Source: 
The Hill
Date Published: 
June 31, 2014
Abstract: 

The Senate passed a bill Thursday night that reauthorizes federal support for autism programs. The Autism CARES Act, H.R. 4631, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate an official to oversee national autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. It also extends autism education programs through 2019. The House passed the measure by voice vote last month and the Senate agreed to it through a unanimous consent agreement. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

ASF President Alison Singer on Good Morning America Comments on Research About Kids Moving Off the Spectrum

Source: 
Good Morning America
Date Published: 
July 31, 2014
Abstract: 

New research by Cathy Lord and Deborah Fein suggests 10% of kids with autism achieve "optimal outcome." Autism Science Foundation President Alison Singer speaks about this new research on Good Morning America, saying there's no miracle cure, and that we need more research so we can discover why certain children are improving so that the same opportunity for improvement can be expanded to more children.