Autism Research: October 24, 2014 Week In Review


Autism siblings show signs at 1.5 years age

Yale University researchers have found that siblings of children with autism start showing signs as early as when they are mere 18 months old. The findings of the study have been published this week in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The team led by Dr. Katarzyna Chawarska found that almost 20% younger siblings would go on to develop an autism spectrum disorder till they turn 3. The findings might help lead to early diagnosis as well earlier rigorous interventions that can help reduce the symptoms of the condition dramatically.

Autism gene duplications evolved only recently, study suggests

A new study conducted by geneticists from University of Washington has revealed that the region of genes linked to autism in the human genome has only evolved in recent 250,000 years. Although it might sound like ages ago, medically it’s a short period given many other diseases are known to have been occurring for many centuries earlier. The American Society of Human Genetics published this information from the study led by Xander Nuttle of the University. He and his team that had collaborated with other geneticists from the universities of Lausanne and Bari, identified that the BOLA2 gene had more than 2 copies in the current day humans as compared to just 2 in our ancestors, the Neanderthals and apes. The team is still trying to apply this new piece of information exactly as the gene is associated with changes in 16p11.2 chromosome that is known to be linked to autism.

Defense system protein moonlights and regulates nerve cell connections

Researchers from the prestigious Princeton University teamed up with those from UC San Diego to unearth a hitherto unknown function of an immune system protein. Researchers led by Lisa Boulanger found that MHCI or major histocompatibility complex class I protein, which as an immunity protein helps in regulation of the number of nerve cell connections called as synapses. The findings of the study were published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience and throw light on this unexpected function of the protein in disorders like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and autism.

New link between childhood autism and toxics in air

That the environment is leading to rising rates of autism has been a long held theory but researchers led by Dr. Evelyn Talbott have added to the growing body of evidence supporting this theory. She and her team published their findings this week at the American Association for Aerosol Research yearly meet at Orlando. The team from University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences found that kids with an ASD had a higher probability of exposure to unsafe levels of air toxics while in the mother’s womb and up till their 2nd birthdays compared to other typically growing peers. The rising evidence in favor of air pollution leading to autism is enough to make the authorities sit up and take strict action in controlling air toxins to curb the worsening rates of autism.

UW-Milwaukee Researcher Adds to Evidence Linking Autism to Air Pollutants

As reported here in Autistm Daily Newscst, a study conducted by Amy Kalkbrenner , a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has added further evidence linking air pollution to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The journal Epidemiology recently published this online research showing the probable relation of air pollutants to autism rates in North Carolina.