Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BioAutism 2011

See the meeting follow-up page

Invitation to BioAutism 2011

16th February

Early intervention depends on early diagnosis, and many children are currently diagnosed, using behavioural testing, between 2- 4 years of age, or even older (7+ years of age) in the case of some Asperger children.

This present symposium is being held in order to identify those areas and techniques of research currently being carried out in Australia which could be harnessed to produce significant outcomes in  early biological detection of ASD before the onset of behavioural symptoms. Such research is also expected to advance understanding of the underlying aetiology of autism and thus lead to new treatments/interventions for the condition.
Themes: (i) autism etiology, {ii) biomarkers/diagnosis, (iii) treatment/therapies, and (iv) comorbidities/epidemiological issues.  
Other aims: (i) to discuss how to interact with biotech companies to produce significant outcomes in some/all of these themes, (ii) to make people aware of the depth and breadth of biological ASD research in Australia; (iii) to provide networking and collaboration opportunities for these researchers.

Key Speakers:
Dr Catherine Marraffa (RCH Melbourne) Clinical diagnosis and practise
Prof Katrina Williams (RCH Melbourne) Epidemiology
Dr Charles Claudianos (QBI) Developing a diagnostic chip: Molecular systems and autism
Dr David Godler (Uni Melbourne/MCRI) A Novel Diagnostic for Fragile X Syndrome
Assoc Prof Anthony Hannan (HFI) Genes and the environment
Dr Paul Dawson (UQ/MMRI) Sulfate metabolism in autism
Prof Joel Bornstein (Uni Melbourne) Synaptic transmission in intestinal reflex pathways
Plus many others.

Short talk opportunities and poster presentations:
If you wish to present at BioAutism 2011, some short talk opportunities and poster presentations are available. Expressions of interest via half-page abstracts should be emailed to Dr Elisa Hill by Monday January 24

Registration (Free, but for catering purposes please RSVP to Dr Elisa Hill by Monday January 24

Speaker abstracts will be posted on this ARA blog.

Location Theatre 1(Ground Floor on left of entry), ICT Building, Melbourne University, 111 Barry St, Carlton (Melways 2B C8 and 571 P7)

Registration 08.30. Meeting 09.00-17.00hrs

Public Transport:
Trams 19, 59 (starting from opposite Flinders St Station in Elizabeth St) to the junction of Pelham St and Elizabeth St (Melways 2B C9). Walk east along Pelham St and left into Barry St. 
ICT entry is 60 metres on the left.
Parking is available in the University Square car park (underground). Entry Berkeley St (near corner of Grattan St). Ticket machines on Level 1 outside the East and West lifts.

Organisers: Dennis Crowley (Autism Vic), Drs Elisa Hill (Uni Melbourne), Naomi Bishop (La Trobe Uni) and Randal Moldrich (QBI).

Thanks to Autism Victoria and Science Advantage for sponsoring the meeting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sex-specific biomarkers for Asperger syndrome

Examining biomarkers in serum provides promise for understanding autism spectrum disorders and for development of diagnostic tests. A recent publication in Molecular Psychiatry (prepublication, 2010) by researchers based at the University of Cambridge examined 147 serum biomarkers in adults with Asperger disorder compared to control subjects. Multiple factors in serum were found at abnormal levels in subjects with Asperger disorder, compared to controls. Strikingly, differences in biomarker 'fingerprints' were found in males (12 subjects) and females (13 subjects) with Asperger disorder, indicating different diagnostic tests may be required for autism spectrum disordes in males and females, and sex-linked factors may affect the nature/etiology of autism in males and females.

Article:Sex-specific serum biomarker patterns in adults with Asperger's syndrome

Schwarz E et al. (2010) Molecular Psychiatry: advanced online publication

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New autism scientific journal

A new journal has been set up with the intention of publishing basic, translational and clinical research into the molecular basis of autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions
Articles are free to read online.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Using MRI to diagnose ASD

Some parts of the brain are thought to be typically changed in ASD. Researchers in the UK have described an analysis for magnetic resonance imaging that is specific for ASD in 80% of cases. They compared adult volunteers with ASD to those with ADHD. Some of the MRI parameters included the brain volume, the curvature of the folds in the brain, the grey matter and the thickness. One of the limitations of the study was the small sample size, but it is hoped that more people can be recruited for further validation of the methods. Also, the participants were high-functioning, allowing compliance with the imaging. No distinction was possible between ASD and Aspergers. Importantly, it demonstrated by imaging that there is a complexity of grey matter changes in the brains of those with ASD and that these can be measured. Finally, the participants were would be nice if such a sensitive and accurate test would work in infants prior to developing the hallmarks of ASD, thereby allowing earlier intervention.
Find the paper here

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Towards a biological understanding of behavioural problems

Current ASD diagnostic approaches and intervention options are behavioral in nature, therefore, why is an understanding of ASD at the biological level relevant? This review, published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, discusses some of the biological disruptions behind the behavioural symptoms of ASD. One of the core components behind the biology is the dopamine neural pathway. Dopamine is a chemical and sometimes hormone, in the nervous system that performs a number of tasks. It is often referred to as the reward hormone because of its involvement in rewarding and reinforcing behaviours. Other chemicals in the brain are discussed here also. Understanding the biology helps us to design drugs that can assist with current behavioural treatments, resulting in quicker learning and a decreased reliance on specialised services. With earlier diagnosis, earlier drug treatment can assist the body's own learning processes, before specialised training can commence. With many causes of ASD, treatments are unlikely to be terribly effective which address the cause. Effective treatments are likely to be those that address the affected biology.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Do different genetic mutations result in different ASD severities?

While it is known that genetic mutations can contribute to the status of our health, which is certainly the case in some individuals with ASD, what is not known is whether different types of mutations result in different degrees of severity. Researchers have recently asked this question, using an ASD susceptibility point in our DNA make-up. They found that the clinical variability of ASDs may be reduced or categorised when subgroups based on a specific mutations are distinguished from the ASD population. What this means is that the spectrum of autism can be categorised by mutations to form subgroups of autism. In future, ASDs are likely to be subgrouped by genetics and symptoms.
Find the report