TAG: "Autism"

SSRI use during pregnancy associated with risk of autism in boys


Highest association found during first-trimester exposure for autism.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, UC Davis

Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), medications frequently prescribed to treat depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders, is associated with a higher incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD) in male children, a study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs has found.

Published online today (April 14) in the journal Pediatrics, the study involved 966 mother-child pairs from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, a population-based, case-control study at the UC Davis MIND Institute led by professor Irva Hertz-Picciotto, chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences.

“This study provides further evidence that in some children, prenatal exposure to SSRIs may influence their risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder,” Hertz-Picciotto said. “It also highlights the challenge for women and their physicians, to balance the risks vs. benefits from taking these medications, given that a mother’s underlying mental health conditions may also pose a risk to both herself and her child.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments (0)

Researchers uncover new aspect of autism


Splice variants reveal connections among autism genes.

Splicing variants (red) of autism genes were cloned from the brain and screened for interactions. The image on the right represents the network of interactions. Gray lines are interactions from a single isoform; red lines are interactions from additional isoforms of autism candidate genes (yellow circles).

A team of researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has uncovered a new aspect of autism, revealing that proteins involved in autism interact with many more partners than previously known. These interactions had not been detected earlier because they involve alternatively spliced forms of autism genes found in the brain.

In their study, published in the April 11 online issue of Nature Communications, the scientists isolated hundreds of new variants of autism genes from the human brain, and then screened their protein products against thousands of other proteins to identify interacting partners. Proteins produced by alternatively-spliced autism genes and their many partners formed a biological network that produced an unprecedented view of how autism genes are connected.

“When the newly discovered splice forms of autism genes were added to the network, the total number of interactions doubled,” said principal investigator Lilia Iakoucheva, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. In some cases, the splice forms interacted with a completely different set of proteins. “What we see from this network is that different variants of the same protein could alter the wiring of the entire system,” Iakoucheva said.

“This is the first proteome-scale interaction network to incorporate alternative splice forms,” noted Marc Vidal, Ph.D., CCSB director and a co-investigator on the study. “The fact that protein variants produce such diverse patterns of interactions is exciting and quite unexpected.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Study shows evidence that autism begins during pregnancy


Finding gives insight into the nature of autism.

Eric Courchesne, UC San Diego

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy.

The study will be published in the March 27 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers – Eric Courchesne, Ph.D., professor of neurosciences and director of the Autism Center of Excellence at UC San Diego; Ed S. Lein, Ph.D., of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle; and first author Rich Stoner, Ph.D., of the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence – analyzed 25 genes in post-mortem brain tissue of children with and without autism. These included genes that serve as biomarkers for brain cell types in different layers of the cortex, genes implicated in autism and several control genes.

“Building a baby’s brain during pregnancy involves creating a cortex that contains six layers,” Courchesne said. “We discovered focal patches of disrupted development of these cortical layers in the majority of children with autism.” Stoner created the first three-dimensional model visualizing brain locations where patches of cortex had failed to develop the normal cell-layering pattern.

“The most surprising finding was the similar early developmental pathology across nearly all of the autistic brains, especially given the diversity of symptoms in patients with autism, as well as the extremely complex genetics behind the disorder,” explained Lein.

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Atypical development in siblings of kids with autism can be seen at 12 months


Close to half of younger siblings of children with autism develop atypically, study finds.

UC Davis MIND Institute researcher Sally Ozonoff (right) working with a family

Atypical development can be detected as early as 12 months of age among the siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder, a study published by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute and UCLA has found.

Published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the study found that close to half of the younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) develop in an atypical fashion, with 17 percent developing ASD and another 28 percent showing delays in other areas of development or behavior.

Among the 28 percent of children with older siblings with ASD who showed delays in other areas of development, differences were identified in their social, communication, cognitive or motor development by 12 months. The most common deficits were in the social-communication domain, such as extreme shyness with unfamiliar people, lower levels of eye contact and delayed pointing.

The research suggests that parents and clinicians should be vigilant for such symptoms early on among the siblings of children with autism, in order to take full advantage of opportunities for targeted early intervention to improve those children’s outcomes.

“Having a child in the family with autism spectrum disorder means that subsequent infants born into that family should be regularly screened for developmental and behavioral problems by their pediatricians,” said Sally Ozonoff, study lead author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

“This research should give parents and clinicians hope that clinical symptoms of atypical development can be picked up earlier, so that we can, perhaps, reduce some of the difficulties that these families often face by intervening earlier.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Complementary medicine in wide use to treat children with autism


Alternative medicine also often used for young children with developmental delays.

Robin Hansen and children at the UC Davis MIND Institute

Robin Hansen and children at the UC Davis MIND Institute

In a study of the range of treatments being employed for young children with autism and other developmental delays, UC Davis MIND Institute researchers have found that families often use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments and that the most frequent users of both conventional and complementary approaches are those with higher levels of parental education and income.

There is no Food and Drug Administration-approved medical treatment for the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition whose hallmarks are deficits in social relatedness, repetitive thoughts and behaviors and, often, intellectual disability.

In the search for treatments to help their children, families may turn to unconventional approaches such as mind-body medicine (e.g. meditation or prayer), homeopathic remedies, probiotics, alternative diets or more invasive therapies such as vitamin B-12 injections, intravenous immunoglobulin or chelation therapy — some of which carry significant risks.

The research is published online today (Jan. 11) in the Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. It was led by Robin Hansen, director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute and chief of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics in the UC Davis School of Medicine.

“In our Northern California study population, it does not appear that families use complementary and alternative treatments due to the lack of availability of conventional services, as has been suggested by other research,” Hansen said. “Rather, they use the treatments in addition to conventional approaches.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UCSF, Quest Diagnostics launch collaboration to advance precision medicine


Areas of focus will include autism, oncology, neurology and women’s health.

June Lee, UC San Francisco

June Lee, UC San Francisco

UC San Francisco and Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, have formed a collaboration to accelerate the translation of biomedical research into advanced diagnostics in the field of precision medicine, for improved patient care, treatment and outcomes.

Initial clinical areas of focus include autism, oncology, neurology and women’s health.

The collaboration, which combines the research discoveries and capabilities of UCSF with the national testing database and technical and clinical development capability of Quest Diagnostics, has an overarching aim of enabling holistic and integrated diagnostic solutions that close gaps in care or enable new clinical value.

Under the terms of the agreement, scientists will jointly research, develop and validate diagnostic innovations to solve specific clinical problems and provide actionable information to improve patient care. The organizations will focus on diagnostics to advance precision medicine, an emerging field of medical science that aims to integrate the most informative data from molecular, clinical, population and other research to create predictive, preventive and precise medical solutions for patients. Quest Diagnostics would independently develop and validate any lab-developed tests for clinical use that emerge from the collaboration’s research.

Researchers will utilize laboratory-based diagnostics, imaging procedures and population analysis based on Quest’s national Health Trends database, the largest private clinical database in the U.S., based on more than 1.5 billion patient encounters, to advance precision medicine.

The alliance is the first master agreement that UCSF’s Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances has signed with a clinical laboratory testing company and augments the university’s efforts to translate laboratory research into new therapies. The broad agreement lays the groundwork for multiple projects between the two organizations.

“Advances in technology and science have identified many promising opportunities to improve outcomes through insights revealed by novel diagnostic solutions, yet fulfilling the full potential of these opportunities often hinges on translational clinical studies which validate their value,” said Jay Wohlgemuth, M.D., senior vice president, science and innovation, Quest Diagnostics. “This unique collaboration between UCSF and Quest brings together the finest researchers and clinicians in the country to accelerate the development of a ‘product pipeline’ of scientific discoveries as clinically valuable diagnostic solutions that enable precision medicine for improved outcomes.”

The collaboration is launching with two specific projects already under way. One project involves Quest’s national database of molecular testing data to facilitate participation in research and development efforts related to genetic variations of autism, based on Quest’s CGH microarray ClariSure technology, which can help identify genetic mutations associated with autism and other developmental disorders. While there currently is no treatment for autism, a test that aids its diagnosis could help identify individuals who might be appropriate candidates for research studies that could lead to future therapies.

The second project aims to identify biomarkers to determine which children with glioma brain tumors may benefit from a drug that is currently available to treat the disease. That project will integrate molecular biomarker testing with advanced MRI imaging technologies. This project is the first phase of larger collaborative studies to develop and validate integrated care pathways, which would include laboratory diagnostics, imaging data and other clinical information to be used in the management of patients with brain cancer and neurological diseases.

UCSF has been at the forefront of the movement toward precision medicine, for which UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, M.D., M.P.H., co-authored the initial National Academy of Sciences paper that defined the new field. That paper set the vision of harnessing the vast amounts of genetic, environmental and health data worldwide to make health care more predictive, precise and targeted.

“There are many diagnostics projects underway at UCSF for which Quest could partner and contribute a great deal of value in turning an isolated research project into a diagnostic service or other technology that directly benefits patients,” said June Lee, M.D., F.A.C.C.P., director of early translational research at the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which initiated the collaboration with Quest after several scientists from both organizations had formed isolated, but successful, research collaborations. “This agreement will give UCSF researchers access to Quest expertise in developing diagnostics, as well as in understanding the market conditions for projects on campus.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Misdiagnosing autism


A reassessment of autism in children with 22q.

Kathleen Angkustsiri and Tony Simon with a 22q patient

Kathleen Angkustsiri and Tony Simon with a 22q patient

UC Davis MIND Institute researcher Tony Simon and his colleague, Kathleen Angkustsiri, see children with a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Many of these patients also have a second diagnosis: autism.

But to Simon and Angkustsiri that seemed wrong-headed

“Over the years, a number of children came to us as part of the research or the clinical assessments that we perform, and their parents told us that they had an autism spectrum diagnosis. It’s quite clear that children with the disorder do have social impairments,” said Simon, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the chromosome 22q11.2 deletion program at the MIND Institute.

“But it did seem to us that they did not have a classic case of autism spectrum disorder. They often have very high levels of social motivation. They get a lot of pleasure from social interaction, and they’re quite socially skilled.”

22q11.2 deletion syndrome — or 22q — may cause mild to severe cardiac anomalies, weakened immune systems and malformations of the head and neck and the roof of the mouth, or palate. Children with the condition also experience developmental delay, with IQs in the borderline-to-low-average range. They characteristically have significant anxiety and appear socially awkward.

Based on parent-report measures, about 50 percent of children with 22q are thought to have autism. Simon and Angkustsiri decided to study the incidence in children they see at the MIND Institute with 22q and autism. They administered two tests — Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), a gold-standard autism assessment for autism to 29 children with 22q. The Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ), a 40-question parent screening tool for communication and social functioning based was administered to their parents. Their study, published in the September Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, found that none of them “met strict diagnostic criteria” for autism.

“Our findings lead us to question whether this is the correct label for these children, who clearly have social impairments. We need to find out what interventions are most appropriate for their difficulties,” said Angkustsiri, lead author and assistant professor of developmental-behavioral pediatrics at the MIND Institute.

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UC Davis research named a top 10 scientific advance in autism for 2013


Study focused on gastrointestinal problems in children with autism.

Virginia Chaidez, UC Davis

Virginia Chaidez, UC Davis

A study by UC Davis MIND Institute researchers is among Autism Speaks’ top 10 scientific advances of 2013.

Each year, the international autism and science advocacy organization documents the progress made toward discovering causes of and treatments for autism spectrum disorder, identifying the top investigations contributing to better understanding of the condition.

The MIND Institute study, “Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development,” was published online Nov. 6 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

It found that children with autism experience gastrointestinal (GI) upsets such as constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods six-to-eight times more often than do children who are developing typically, and that those symptoms are related to behavioral problems, including the social withdrawal, irritability and repetitive behaviors that are hallmarks of the condition.

The research was led by  Virginia Chaidez, a postdoctoral trainee in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences when the investigation was conducted who now is an analyst for UC Cal Fresh Nutrition Education Program state office.

“This recognition is very humbling, considering the caliber of research and investigators nationwide,” Chaidez said. “And it is a wonderful affirmation that my work may in some way improve the lives of children with autism. I hope we can move to the next steps of figuring out why gastrointestinal problems occur so frequently in children with autism to find the most effective treatments.”

Chaidez collaborated with Irva Hertz-Picciotto, chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and Robin Hansen, director of the Center of Excellence for Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute and chief of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics.

The research was conducted as a component of the Northern California-based Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study, of which Hertz-Picciotto is principal investigator, between April 2003 and May 2011.

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

UCLA team first to map autism-risk genes by function


Results reveal how mutations in genes disrupt early brain development.

Daniel Geschwind, UCLA

Daniel Geschwind, UCLA

Pity the poor autism researcher. Recent studies have linked hundreds of gene mutations scattered throughout the brain to an increased risk for autism. Where does one start investigating?

UCLA neuroscientists may have an answer. They are the first to map groups of autism-risk genes by function and to identify where and when these genes affect early brain development.

In addition, they discovered disturbances in neural circuits that define key pathways between parts of the cerebral cortex that are known to be involved in autism. The research suggests that these disruptions are created by mutations in genes during fetal brain development and are not a result of autism itself.

Published in the Nov. 21 edition of Cell, the findings shed light on how genetic changes cause autism on a molecular level and will help prioritize targets for future studies.

“Identifying gene variants that boost risk is only the first step of unraveling a disease,” said lead author Dr. Daniel Geschwind, the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “We need to figure out where genetic changes appear in the brain, at what stages during development they occur and which biological processes they disrupt. Only then will we understand how mutations cause autism.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Zeroing in on autism


Scientists pinpoint cell type and brain region affected by gene mutations in autism.

Autism illustrationA team led by UC San Francisco scientists has identified the disruption of a single type of cell – in a particular brain region and at a particular time in brain development – as a significant factor in the emergence of autism.

The finding, reported in today’s (Nov. 21) issue of Cell, was made with techniques developed only within the last few years and marks a turning point in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) research.

Large-scale gene-sequencing projects are revealing hundreds of autism-associated genes. Scientists have begun to leverage new methods to decipher how mutations in these disparate genes might converge to exert their effects in the developing brain.

The new research focused on just nine genes, those most strongly associated with autism in recent sequencing studies, and investigated their effects using precise maps of gene expression during human brain development.

Led by Jeremy Willsey, a graduate student in the laboratory of senior author Matthew W. State, M.D., Ph.D., of UCSF, the group showed that this set of genes contributes to abnormalities in brain cells known as cortical projection neurons in the deepest layers of the developing prefrontal cortex, during the middle period of fetal development.

Though a range of developmental scenarios in multiple brain regions is surely at work in ASDs, the researchers said the ability to place these specific genetic mutations in one specific set of cells – among hundreds of cell types in the brain, and at a specific point in human development – is a critical step in beginning to understand how autism comes about.

“Given the small subset of autism genes we studied, I had no expectation that we would see the degree of spatiotemporal convergence that we saw,” said State, an international authority on the genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders.

“This strongly suggests that, though there are hundreds of autism risk genes, the number of underlying biological mechanisms will be far fewer,” he said. “This is a very important clue to advance precision medicine for autism toward the development of personalized and targeted therapies.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Children who have autism far more likely to have tummy troubles


GI problems are linked to problem behaviors in children with autism, developmental delay.

Children with autism experience gastrointestinal (GI) upsets such as constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods six-to-eight times more often than do children who are developing typically, and those symptoms are related to behavioral problems, including social withdrawal, irritability and repetitive behaviors, a new study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute has found.

The researchers said that understanding the impact of GI problems in children with autism could provide new insight into more effective and appropriate autism treatments that could decrease their GI difficulties and that may have the potential to decrease their problem behaviors as well.

The investigation is the largest and the most ethnically diverse study comparing GI problems in children with autism, developmental delay and typical development, and among the first to examine the relationship between GI symptoms and problem behaviors in children with autism, the researchers said.

“Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development” is published online today (Nov. 6) in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“Parents of children with autism have long said that their kids endure more GI problems, but little has been known about the true prevalence of these complications or their underlying causes,” said Virginia Chaidez, the lead study author who was a postdoctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences at the time of the study.

“The GI problems they experience may be bidirectional,” Chaidez said. “GI problems may create behavior problems, and those behavior problems may create or exacerbate GI problems. One way to try to tease this out would be to begin investigating the effects of various treatments and their effects on both GI symptoms and problem behaviors.”

Read more

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Social brain development in autism the topic of November lecture


UC Davis MIND Institute to host talk by Yale researcher James McPartland.

UC Davis MIND Institute

UC Davis MIND Institute

James C. McPartland, director of the Developmental Disabilities Clinic at the Child Study Center at Yale University, will discuss “Motivated for Change: Rethinking Models of Social Brain Development in Autism Spectrum Disorder” during the November UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the MIND Institute, 2825 50th St., Sacramento.

One of the core features of autism spectrum disorder is social impairment, which emerges in early childhood. McPartland’s research explores the interplay between social-behavioral vulnerabilities and experiences in early childhood, with the objective of developing biologically based tools to detect and treat developmental disorders in very young children. During the lecture, he will review his research on testing and expanding the “social motivation hypothesis of autism” — the concept that children with autism don’t interact socially because they derive less pleasure from social interaction than do typically developing children.

McPartland, an assistant professor of child psychiatry and psychology, is the author of two books and over 45 scholarly works on autism and related topics. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the International Society for Autism Research Young Investigator Award, the Patterson Trust Clinical Research Award and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Klerman Prize.

McPartland serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disability, Encyclopedia of Autism and Related Disorders, and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and he reviews manuscripts for more than 20 journals in the fields of clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He also serves on the executive committee of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and is the treasurer of the International Society for Autism Research.

All Distinguished Lecturer Series presentations are free and open to the public, with no reservations required. The MIND Institute Resource Center, specializing in information and resources relating to neurodevelopmental disorders and related conditions, is open one hour before and 30 minutes after each presentation.

View original article

For more health news, visit UC Health, subscribe by email or follow us on Flipboard.

CATEGORY: NewsComments Off

Match Day at UC San Diego School of Medicine

Click video for closed captions, larger view

Connect with UC

UC for California   Follow UC News on Twitter   Follow UC on Facebook   Subscribe to UC Health RSS feed

Event Calendar

<<   April 2014   >>
S M T W T F S
12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930

UC Davis: Investigating liver cancer disparities

Click video for closed captions, larger view

Contact

We welcome your ideas and feedback. To subscribe or send comments or suggestions, please email alec.rosenberg@ucop.edu.