Autism Research: 31st July, 2015 Week in Review


Autism costs to cross $500 billion by 2025

Health economists at the University of California Davis Health System have projected life care costs for people on the spectrum in the US. Keeping in mind that treatment is elusive, job opportunities poor and effective interventions minimal, they have projected loss of $268 billion for 2015 alone including medical as well as non-medical losses, productivity loss. This number is projected to spiral upto $461 billion by 2025 and if prevalence continues to increase, then even cross $1 trillion mark. This is a worrisome figure not only as regards individual costs, but also might affect the way health policies are constructed in the coming years. Led by Paul Leigh, the findings and estimations have been published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Journal Reference: J. Paul Leigh, Juan Du. Brief Report: Forecasting the Economic Burden of Autism in 2015 and 2025 in the United States. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2521-7

Rett syndrome reversible with new drug, study finds

A new study conducted at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has found that using phosphatases can actually reverse symptoms of Rett syndrome, a devastating genetic disorder that is on the autism spectrum. Led by Prof. Tonks, the findings were published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigations and are the product of 25 years of research on PTP1B enzyme discovered by Prof. Tonks. The team found that PTP1B inhibitors helped extend lifespan of Rett syndrome rats from 50 to 75 days. This holds great promise for treatment of autism with larger scale studies in the future.

Journal Reference: Nicholas K. Tonks et al. PTP1B inhibition suggests a therapeutic strategy for Rett syndrome. Journal of Clinical Investigation, July 2015 DOI: 10.1172/JCI80323


Very premature babies linked to risk aversion, introversion and neuroticism

A new study published this week in the prestigious Archives of Disease in Childhood has found associations between very premature babies and behavioral complaints in adulthood. Led by Dieter Wolke, the study involved 200 adults, 26 years of age who were born earlier than 32 weeks of gestation or had 1500 grams and lesser birth weight compared with 197 adults with near normal birth weight and normal term delivery. Findings showed that very premature babies had higher chances of introversion, having difficult relationships and neuroticism as adults along with increased chances of having an autism spectrum disorder.

Journal Reference: Suna Eryigit-Madzwamuse,Victoria Strauss, Nicole Baumann, Peter Bartmann, Dieter Wolke. Personality of adults who were born very preterm. Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal & Neonatal Edition, July 2015 DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2014-308007

Predicting autism in children with DiGeorge syndrome

Researchers from University of California, Los Angeles have developed a unique system to predict if a child with DiGeorge syndrome will go ahead to develop either autism or psychosis. The findings of the study have been published this week in the journal PLOS ONE . Led by Carrie Bearden, the study has detected differences in the genes with the deletion of chromosome 22q11.2, medically termed as DiGeorge syndrome. The syndrome endows highest risk for psychosis and significant risk of autism on people diagnosed with it. The scientists identified differences in about 237 genes that helped analyze whether the person will go on to develop autism or psychosis.

Journal Reference: Maria Jalbrzikowski, Maria T. Lazaro, Fuying Gao, Alden Huang, Carolyn Chow, Daniel H. Geschwind, Giovanni Coppola, Carrie E. Bearden. Transcriptome Profiling of Peripheral Blood in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Reveals Functional Pathways Related to Psychosis and Autism Spectrum Disorder. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (7): e0132542 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132542