Autism Research: September 21, 2013 week in review

CC BY-SA by Egan Snow

CC BY-SA by Egan Snow

 Hyperbaric oxygen therapy centre for autism given red signal by FDA

In a report released on 22.8.2013, the Food and Drug Administraion of USA has given the thumbs down to a hyperbaric oxygen therapy centre for treating people diagnosed with autism. In a bid to increase awareness of futility of numerous alternative therapies in the treatment of autism, of which one is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the FDA took a cue from the study published by Centre for Autism Research and Related Disorders and denied the opening of the centre. FDA said the study proved that HBOT had no clinical evidence backing its utility in treating autism or diabetes or cancer.

Neuronal synapses poor in Autism, Schizophrenia and Fragile X Syndrome

A new study published in the leading Neuron journal has revealed that the connections between neurons termed as synapses are not fully developed and malfunctional in three of the most common psychiatric disorders, namely autism, fragile X syndrome and schizophrenia. Researcher Claudia Bagni and her team from Italy collaborated with laboratories from USA, UK, France and the Netherlands to discover the protein that regulates the two developmental processes that form a neuronal synapse. Malfunction at the synapses is the cause of numerous neurological disorders including Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. The research has revealed how mutations of the protein CYFP1 that is responsible for synapse development probably disturbs the growth and leads to the plethora of manifestations of neurological disorder.

 Autism mis-diagnosed, over-diagnosed, study reveals

As reported in Autism Daily Newscast on Thursday, a new study has found that a percentage of children diagnosed to have autism, suffering from 22q11.2 chromosome deletion syndrome, might have been wrongly labelled as autistic. A prevalence of 20-50% of autism has been reported in children with the deletion syndrome who were diagnosed using rigorous diagnostic gold-standard guidelines drawn for autism but the paper shows that none of the participants complied with the strict criteria laid down for autism. The study conducted by a team of scientists at the UC Davis MIND Institute was lead by Kathleen Angkustsiri and published in the elite Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.   The study, one of the first of its kind to look into presence of autism in children with 22q11.2 chromosome deletion syndrome has challenged the diagnosis of autism as well as the interventions to be applied for the children.

Love hormone’ oxytocin potentially therapeutic in autism, Harvard study reveals.

 The Harvard review of Psychiatry has published a paper adding to the ongoing debate of utility and potential therapeutic action of oxytocin. A research study team lead by Dr. Cochran from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and colleagues has found evidence for the action of this love hormone in social interaction. The study has found its action in evaluation and response to stimuli while interacting with others, formation of social memories, mediation of social interaction and decision making in social interactions. Earlier studies have shown evidence of oxytocin receptor gene malfunctioning in multiple neurological disorders. The study has suggested potential role in improving social behaviours, stress, cognition and repetitive behaviours all of which are a part of autism spectrum. Its utility in schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression has also been suggested and demands larger trials for more conclusive evidence. Even obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) might benefit from oxytocin therapy and electroconvulsive therapy results might show greater results by adding oxytocin in the regimen.