Autism Research: September 6, 2014 Week in Review

ResearchResearchers call attention to autism medication efficacy due to potentially poor absorption in body

It is a known fact that a lot of autism children and adults suffer from variable gastrointestinal symptoms. The reason behind these symptoms is not exactly understood. Researcher are now drawing attention to these symptoms as they might be affecting the efficacy of the drugs used in autism. Underlying gastrointestinal problems that might be producing these symptoms could be leading to poor absorption and drug utilization. Given that about 35% autism patients use at least one psychologically active medication, poor drug efficacy could hint towards looking at newer routes of drug administration. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology this week and was led by Dr. Maria Valdovinos.

Early insult to cerebellum possible mechanism to autism

 The cerebellum, often called as the small brain, is responsible for vital functions like motor co-ordination, balance, sleep-wake cycle, etc. Princeton University lead author Sam Wang and his team are now suspecting that damage to the cerebellum early on in the pregnancy might be the key to understanding autism. published in the journal Neuron, the study suggested that an early ‘ developmental diaschisis’ might be occurring, i.e. due to cerebellar injury, there might be disruption of function in other parts of the brain as well. Although this is still a theory, the researchers have already put in place methods of testing if this theory is correct or not. Few papers in the past have suggested that cerebellar damage might be one of the causes of autism, but the cerebellum has largely been overlooked as a possible cause for autism.

Study reanalyzes CDC data; finds link between MMR vaccine and autism

Dr. Brian Hooker reanalyzed the data used by the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), USA, the leading body that decides if a vaccine or treatment method is safe for mass use or not. The CDC had published data from a large study back in 2004, stating that on close analysis, it was found that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) was not found to pose a greater risk for autism. Dr. Brian went through the data that was published between 1986 and 1993, when the 1st doses of MMR vaccine were given, to see if a link was there between child age and the risk of autism post the vaccination. He found that a generally higher risk and an especially higher risk of autism was found for African American male children. He also found that African American males that received the vaccine before 2 yrs age was higher compared to those who received it after 2 yrs age. The study’s findings have rekindled the long standing controversy between autism risk and vaccination with both sides going public with their opinions and proofs, but no concrete final verdict seems to appear as to what parents should finally do. The CDC rubbished these new findings, and has stuck to its original opinion that there is no higher risk for autism with MMR vaccination and each child should be vaccinated.

In connection with this, Translational Neurodegeneration Journal Retract Paper on Study of Autism. Hooker claims that this finding was suppressed by the authors of the original paper from the  Centers of Disease Control (CDC). One of the co-authors, William Thompson, released a press release were he states that data was omitted. The full press release by William W. Thompson, Ph.D. can be read here

Do children with autism have better math skills?

A study of typically-developing children published in the August 17 edition of Nature Neuroscience found that changes in the hippocampus, a brain area associated with memory formation, paralleled changes in math strategies used by the children. Another study published August 17 in the online journal Biological Psychiatry, from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital found differences in the brains of children with autism who demonstrated superior mathematical abilities. To read more on these findings from Autism Daily Newscast click here.

 

 

 

 

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