Autism Research: February 21, 2014 Week In Review

adn-icon-298x300Potential solution for feeding difficulties in autism found

A new study published in the journal Disease Models & Mechanisms conducted collaboratively at the George Washington University has found the pathogenesis or the process of occurrence of swallowing and feeding hurdles faced by caregivers of children with autism. Pediatric dysphagia, as it is medically called, is due to the malfunction of cranial nerves that emerge from the brain. The study was conducted jointly by LaMantia of GWU and Sally Moody at SMHS. Difficulties in feeding/swallowing often lead to poor weight gain in early childhood which leads to other developmental delays. A healthy, happy child can focus on learning new things from his environment while a hungry, underfed and weak child invariably starts falling back in mental growth and development. Thus, the study could pave new inroads into developing therapies to correct the cranial nerve malfunction and prevent such eating problems.

Genetic hotspot for autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disability detected

 In a rare new study, scientists have discovered a common segment on the chromosome number 7 that is concerned with the three widely prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders of schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. The study published in the issue of Biological Psychiatry was headed by Dr. Jennifer Mulle from Emory. This new insight on the overlap of 3 conditions that occur at very varied stages of life, manifest very differently and affect different areas of the brain suggests that genes play a strong role in neuropsychiatric disorders. The research will open new channels for researchers at working on genetic links of these medical conditions that can severely hamper routine life and independence.

Industrial chemicals strongly linked to rising global pandemic of autism

Dr. Philippe Grandjean of University of Southern Denmark and Dr. Philip Landrigan together published a new study in The Lancet Neurology demanding immediate need for restrictions on global usage of industrial chemicals. The reason for doing so is their study that found the developing fetal and infant brain was far more vulnerable to harmful chemicals that are toxic enough to cause or worsen ADHD and autism. They have found that from 2006, the number of chemicals that are neurotoxic has probably more than doubled from the five that they had identified. The duo has demanded an international clearing on such toxins to not just prevent disease but promote mental health. Its time mental health was considered at par or more important than physical health, the two said.

Scottish scientists peak into autism-affected brains using lasers

Scientists from the Edinburgh University are investigating at brain circuitry using state-of-the-art laser microscopes that have been funded by philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley. The new microscopes will allow detailed examination of the living brain tissue at the Patrick Wild Center for Research into Autism, Intellectual Disability and Fragile X Syndrome. Once there is some headway into the causes, the scientists will start testing drugs on animals and their responses using these laser microscopes. Prof. Kind of the Patrick Wild Center is hopeful about drug experiments at the Shirley Imaging Suits with this new equipment that they have received and is looking at ways of correcting autism and intellectual disability.