Israel takes a leadership role in autism research

Earlier this week the Hebrew University of Jerusalem hosted researchers from Canada and Israel attending the first Canada-Israel Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Symposium. The purpose was to bring together the leading researchers from the two countries to discuss the latest findings and possible avenues of research.

To foster greater understanding on the potential impact of these studies on families and the autism community, the last day of the conference was open to the general public. Lihi Lapid, mother to a child on the spectrum and wife of Israeli Minister of Finance provided the opening remarks.

Autism Daily Newscast reported on a study published in the September 25 2013 edition of Nature Communications reveals additional information on how the gene NHE9 contributes to autism. Conducted by researchers from John Hopkins University, Tel-Aviv University, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the study shows that mutations in this gene cause problems with communication between brain cells. This communication problem potentially contributes to autism. The gene has been linked to autism in the past but this study pinpoints the mechanisms involved in the gene’s mutation, giving researchers more specific evidence in how the gene may cause autism.

Autism Daily Newscast has reported on numerous occasions that research surrounding a possible connection between autism and schizophrenia.

In November of 2012, researchers working together from the Sheba Medical Center and Tel Aviv University discovered that autism and schizophrenia had a genetic link. Using extensive data from Israel and Sweden, they determined that a schizophrenic sibling is 12 times more likely to have autism than if no history of family schizophrenia . Talking with ISRAEL21c, Dr. Mark Weiser, Chief of Psychiatry of the Sheba Medical Center and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, will help scientists better understand the genetics of mental illness. Dr. Weiser says

“What makes this study important is both the clinical phase and the conceptual. We can now look for genetic, imaging and biological factors [of these illnesses].”

The full articles by Viva Sarah Press at ISRAEL21c can be found here and here.