Tag Archives: Autism

Neural Memory traces are formed by listening and learning prior to birth


A cognitive neuroscientist from University of Helsinki, Dr. Eino Partanen led a team to show direct neural evidence that neural memory traces are formed by auditory learning prior to birth. Neural memory traces are formed by listening and learning.  Fetuses were exposed to various words inside the uterus and they showed recognition of these words on birth with enhanced brain activity measurements for the trained words.  Furthermore, greater brain activity was correlated with higher amount of prenatal speech exposure (Read original article here). Simply stated, it means that talking or singing to the baby inside the womb will help the baby develop it’s brain commited to speech features.

Implications in Autism?
These results have important implications for Autism prevention in susceptible communities. Perhaps, prevention education might need to begin during prenatal stage? Along with Vitamin D exposure from sunlight, supplements and nutrition of the parents. Recent studies report Vitamin D plays a role in compensating for stress induced deteriorating effects on the brain.

Neural commitment to speech begins before birth
Until this August 2013 publication by Dr. Partanen’s team, the neural basis of fetal learning had not thus far been investigated. This research will aid scientists learning to compensate for learning disabilities of a genetic nature such as dyslexia. It might also imply that it is important to compensate with early learning and listening protocols for genetically susceptible offsprings while still inside the uterus.

Learning begins while Baby is still inside the uterus and factors can stress them

This baby began to learn at 17 weeks of age inside the uterus and may have been exposed to mother's stress hormones

This baby began to learn at 17 weeks of age inside the uterus with prenatal speech exposure and may have been exposed to mother’s stress hormones

Dr. Gail Cross reviewed a few research studies on prenatal learning for Huffington Post here that inform us the developing brain is very sophisticated in utero. Christie Moon, Ph.D., a psychologist at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington and Dr. Hugo Lagercrantz, a professor at the Karalinska Institute in Sweden and a member of the Nobel Assembly co-authored the first study measurably showing the neurosensory mechanism for hearing is intact at 30 weeks of gestational age, while still in the mother’s womb. Dr. Vivette Glover of Imperial College of London was the first to note the early stage in which a mother’s stress and anxiety might affect an unborn baby. Stress hormones of the mother can cross the placenta, affect the dopamine production of the developing fetus brain around 17 weeks of age, and cause a baby to stress more easily with long term lasting effects.

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Bringing brain disorders back into balance with Brain’s thermostat?


Bringing a new path of hope to people with brain development disorders is Dr. Gina Turrigiano and her team at Brandeis University. They demonstrated for the first time in a live animal that the brain has a “thermostat” that maintains a balance of excitement. When it gets too excited a system exists to tone down the firing rate of the neurons or vice versa. This discovery has implications in brain disorder conditions in which the balance is lost in psychiatric conditions like autism where the brain does not get excited enough, or epilepsy in which the brain gets too excited. The brain’s “thermostat” keeps the neurons on an even keel even as they change in response to learning, development or environment factors. This thermostat worked even when the animal was awake or asleep. Read the original article published in the journal Neuron as the cover article on October 16, 2013 by clicking here.

Dr. Turrigiano says that if scientists can figure out how these set points are built, then researchers may be able to adjust them and bring the brains of people suffering from such disorders back into balance.

Dr. Gina Turrigiano, Brandeis University, pioneered "synaptic scaling" where neurons and neural circuits maintain both stability and flexibility

Dr. Gina Turrigiano, Brandeis University, pioneered “synaptic scaling” where neurons and neural circuits maintain both stability and flexibility

Dr. Gina Turrig1ano, was conferred the 2012 HFSP Nakasone award, McArthur Foundation award and the NIH Director’s Pioneering award for her pioneering work and introduction of the term “synaptic scaling”. The concept is that the developing and fully developed brain has inbuilt mechanisms that allow balancing the need for plasticity. It allows the brain to enable learning and development while maintaining the stability and integrity of the circuits that drive behavior.

Work in her lab has shown that neurons can “tune” themselves and scale down excitement or vice versa. However, this concept of “synaptic scaling” or thermostat control had never been observed in a life animal until now.

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Autism Scientists seek public assistance to detect, measure and prevent Autism and major psychiatric disorders


You may want to visit and contribute your experiences at the  Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force  site and inspire them in their public – private effort to achieve their goal. Their vision is to get the desired outcome in three to five years as a result of the work laid out to implement the Minnesota Autism Spectrum Disorder strategic plan. Help them in your own, unique creative way.

You may also contact the Science Department Leadership at various autism foundations, such as Autism Speaks, and Autism Support Network with your personal experiences, hunches and suggestions on which public – private large scale database efforts to fund.

Autism rates continue to rise at an alarming rate
Tomorrow the autistic child could be someone born in your family – 1/50 to 1/80th chance of happening today, with more boys being born with autism than girls. States are drowning with the rising numbers of autism cases. The role of environment cannot be ignored which you may read by clicking “Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?“, although dyslexia and mild communication disorder is rising worldwide (Read more). The role of shared family genes is not being ignored but so far, no clear association has scientific merit. You may call it the Geek syndrome but as Steve Silberman describes, if the autism spectrum genes were eliminated from society, it would be disastrous for the evolution of society. He also adds here that Microsoft recently became the first major US corportion to offer its employees insurance benefits to cover the costs of behavioral training for their autistic children. The number of autistic children among their employees were high enough to justify that – a fact that did not exist even over a decade ago. And their numbers continue to rise.

History of Autism
John Hopkins Neuroimmunopath has a FAQ site on their “Focus on Autism“.  They are researching the role of the immune system in Autism.  You might want to visit their site to consider what unseen factors inside the body control the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  After all, the first cases of Autism in USA were diagnosed at John Hopkins by Dr. Leo Kanner and published in 1943 to alert the public.  Dr. Hans Asperger of Austria described a similar group of patients around the same time and the distinctive sypmtoms got a diagnostic name.

Although historical accounts point to the existence of what could be isolated cases of autism, the mid 20th century is the first time clusters of patients with distinct ASD symptoms began to be diagnosed.  Unfortunately, ASD cases are rising at a rate that we find alarming, even if we allow for a certain threshold of misdiagnosis.  There is no known cure for ASD.  Since we do not know a cause we cannot begin to prevent onset of ASD, which usually strikes suddenly and without warning around the age of 18 months, according to parental reports.  Although there is no doubt that genetics or inherited family factors plays a role in susceptibility to ASD, scientists cannot rule out a potential major role for non-heritable risk factors.  A strong supporting reason for this is an observation by parents of Somali origin, which you may read by clicking “Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?“. Scientist urge for more research on the important role of Vit D, as a possible environmental risk factor in Autism Spectrum Disorder. You may read their review by clicking here. Research studies on gene x environment are identifying which pesticide, herbicide, fungicide classes are of greatest concern in susceptible populations.

What is Autism
Sceptics abound (Read Forbes magazine article here).  Many do not know what is Autism.  Just like in the early 1980s the average person had no idea what HIV and AIDS was; similarly, the average skeptic today is unacquainted with autism and untouched by the daily adversities of living with autism.  Those who have never seen or been in the same room, let alone family, of an autistic individual, will not have any empathy for this discussion. Take your autistic child to public museums, movie theaters, enclosed botanical garden exhibitions. Tell every skeptic who frowns with displeasure that this disruptive individual is a healthy, autistic person. Your job is educational in nature and to reach as many skeptics as you can. If you believe that Autism research needs more believers, then you will have to leave a skeptic alone in the same room with a severely autistic child. Then, leave the skeptic alone in the same room with simply a misbehaved child. The skeptic will realize that there is a difference. Then, to justify urgency, you can show evidence as to how the numbers of autistic children are growing, and soon to become a growing burden on society as they age and their parent – caretakers die. Who will take care of them? Additionally, society is losing 1/50 of every young male or 1/80 of every young child who could contribute gainfully to social security or medicare. Can society let such monetary contributors get lost without a question? In 1960 there were 4.9 workers paying into the social security system for every beneficiary collecting (click here for Time magazine article). In 2035 there will be 1.9 workers for every social security recipient. With rising autism rates, how many of these 1.9 workers will be unable to contribute to this social equation and instead require social care as their caretaker parents die?

AutismIt is possible that part of the reason why no other risk factors have been identified may be that genetic and non – genetic factors need to be studied together in order to get a complete ASD profile.  What factor/s changed globally in the developed world around mid 20th century?  The scientists need the assistance of the public to solve this mystery as observant team members.  You may click here to learn more about facts of ASD and the Autism Fact Sheet of John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.  The origins, detection, measurement and prevention of conditions that affect behavioral, socioemotional and/or cognitive development are specific to Autism and ASD and are discussed here.

Role of Dirt/Microbial biome in Allergy, Asthma and ASD?

A variety of Hookworms

A variety of Hookworms

A blogger, summarizes a recent research study and it’s conclusion that dirt may be necessary to prevent allergies in “Dirt Prevents Allergies“. The researchers, headed by Professor Bisgaard, followed a cohort of asthma patients for several years to identify what factors might have triggered their disease. While these researchers are still looking for asthma trigger factor/s in early childhood, they did find that there was a connection between lack of diversity of bacteria in the intestine and allergy and have published their results in the journal of allergy and clinical immunology in 2011. The “microbial biome” is the term used to define all the bacteria that a healthy intestine supports. You may click here to read “Worm Theory: to improve the immune system to fight asthma, multiple sclerosis and more”. Several families have reported the presence of a parent with multiple sclerosis and children with autism and/or allergy. There apparently is a age – related connection. A younger family member presents with autism while an older family member has symptoms of multiple sclerosis. neuron

Since, researchers are finding that the immune system is involved in both Autism – which is on the rise recently, and in food allergy – which too is on the rise in recent decades and often in the same family, we have to wonder if it is correct to ask, “Is Autism an immune reaction with an allergic profile?” However, why did the recent study of Bisgaard and colleagues not find a common factor in allergy and asthma yet?  Multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease, is also on the rise in recent decades, and often reported in families with autism and severe allergies.

Babies with no autism or allergy

Babies with no autism or allergy

When is the earliest trigger for the diseases that are on the rise in recent years? Why is the first symptom seen not at birth but a few months, several months or years later? What factors control later symptoms? Is it an age – related control? You may want to read a popular article “How I gave my son autism” by Thinking Mom’s Revolution, which lists eight things this mother would change given a change to move time back.

Health Analyses of Families with Autism using the internet

Health Analyses of Families with Autism using the internet

No single gene appears to control autism. Studies indicate that the main immune mechanism in autism is an innate immune reaction. Contrast this to adaptive immune response seen in diseases such as meningitis and encephalitis. What is the difference between innate and adaptive immune system? A simple biological explanation is given by the Univesity of Arizona researchers here.

The Autism Genome Project
The Autism Genome project(AGP) is a large-scale, public – private collaborative, genetics research project initiated by the National Alliance for Autism Research and the National Institute of Health and is aimed at sifting through the human genome in search of autism susceptibility genes. The vision is to identify predisposition to Autism and to identify the causal mechanisms.  A new born screening mechanism would allow for early intervention. AGP has identified a dozen autism related genes researched by 120 scientists from 11 countries. They indicate that two important gene networks in the central nervous system contribute to the susceptibility to autism, leading to impairments in social and communication skills. The estimated prevalence of autism in siblings is about 10%, while it is a whopping 90% in twins. However, although heredity plays a definite role, such children with autism are born only under certain environmental conditions, underlining the fact that unknown life-style changes trigger autism.  The role of lack of exposure to enough Vit D in autism is being researched, especially in countries like Sweden. AGP has also revealed that Autism shares risk genes with major psychiatric disorders. Which leads to the question, whether searching for a cure for autism might lead to an early diagnosis of major psychiatric disorders, prevention and cures? It appears that the diagnosis of dyslexia is more common in underdeveloped countries. However, when this same gene pool is exposed to the life – style changes of a developed country the diagnosis of moderate to severe autism is observed.

Innate and Adaptive Immunity
There is a growing body of evidence linking Vit D to various immune related conditions including allergy and auto-immunity, but none show a convincing link, meaning there is a connecting missing link which remains to be discovered. Lack of Vit D would normally not cause diseases like autism but, given the presence of this missing link, lack of Vit D or specific life-style changes, one becomes predisposed to diseases like autism.  Various diseases involve the innate and/or adaptive immune system:

Dr Belbedos and colleagues want to modulate the innate immune reaction in allergy and asthma therapy in young children.

Lyme disease is an innate immune reaction.

Measles suppreses both innate and adaptive.

Pertussis or whooping cough involves both innate and adaptive.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is different – see fatal tuberculosis , where an acquired immunity is not enough but an innate immune response additionally, is required. The MyD88 pathway is crucial to protect against this disease. 90% of infected people do not show any symptoms. What protects them?

Vitamin D initiates an innate immune reaction. Apparently, its role in adaptive immune response has been known, but not in innate immune response. Too much Vit D is bad.

The National Institute of Health has explained immunity and the immune response in an article and include a video on immune response and a video on vaccines. The definitions of innate, acquired and passive immunity are followed by a video; if you scroll down, you will see the videos.

Related Video
Watch a video of a Pro-surfer, a father of an autistic son, and founder of a non-profit foundation school of Surfing for Autistic kids and how it makes them smile. Volunteers are pro-surfers.

Related Articles
A single shared component has been confirmed in allergy and autoimmune diseases
Proteins neuroligins and neurexins are important in Autism and Schizophrenia
G proteins: the connector proteins that try to prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Could “brain to brain” via internet communication research help autistics?


Researchers at University of Washington plugged the wirings of a human brain into the most advanced computer known by man – another human brain. They predict such “brain to brain” communication research might help people with disabilities communicate their needs for food, water or a game better. Amazingly, brain signals between these two human beings might work even if they spoke different languages, thus signaling the age of unification via grey matter.

This research was conducted at University of Washington between two human researchers located at opposite ends of the same campus. One human researcher wearing a brain cap contraption controlled via the internet the action of another human researcher wearing a wired contraption over the motor cortex area. Similar research has been done between rats or a human and a rat at Duke University and Harvard University.

Such research requires intereactions between mechanical engineers, bioengineers, neuroscientists, robotics experts, and computer scientists. Bringing them together are visionary leaders with a long – term approach to results and possible applications. Those who expect immediate economic impact will naturally not fund such research. University of Washington has been fortunate to have been funded with patient, visionary leaders. Their research is helping build a dynamic computer and robotics campus exploring the last frontier – the brain.

Read more in this Forbes article by Jennifer Hicks explained after interviews with researchers and accompanied with pictures and diagrams.

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Role of “love hormone” and fresh infant food in autism and allergy


Adding to thirty years of research, scientists have discovered a potential role and mode of action of oxytocin, a naturally occuring brain hormone commonly called the “love hormone”. Neuropsychopharmacologists study the effect of chemicals in the brain and behavior. A team consisting of Dr. Tsien (Stanford University, CA), his graduate student Scott Owen, Dr. Gord Fischell (NYU Langone Medical Center, NY), his graduate student Sebnem Tuncdemir, and collaborators Patrick Bader, and Natasha Tirko resolved how oxytocin increases signaling to neurons and published their findings online on August 4, in the Journal Nature. This hormone can quiet background noise and enhance brain circuits. Individuals with autism lack the ability to filter desirable information processing signals. How this hormone can modulate fast spiking interneurons will continue to be researched, in addition to it’s therapeutic potential in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). To read the original article in nature click here.

…Neuromodulatory control by oxytocin is essential to a wide range of social1, 2, parental3 and stress-related behaviours4. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with deficiencies in oxytocin levels5 and with genetic alterations of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR)6. Thirty years ago, Mühlethaler et al.7 found that oxytocin increases the firing of inhibitory hippocampal neurons, but it remains unclear how elevated inhibition could account for the ability of oxytocin to improve information processing in the brain….

Research in repetitive behavior in ASD
With rising rates of autism spectrum disorder, especially among boys, there is a sense of urgency to find answers. We must not ignore the years of research effort by countless scientists working on how to reduce repetitive behaviors in individuals in the autism spectrum. For example, a 2003 article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology was published by a team of Neuropsychopharmacologists suggested

….Repetitive behavior in autism spectrum disorders may be related to abnormalities in the oxytocin system, and may be partially ameliorated by synthetic oxytocin infusion…

which you can click here to read.  The problem lies in the fact that a cure is still elusive.  Some parents find that keeping individuals with ASD active in a repetitive sport helps ease the symptom of repetitive behavior, with a regulated repetitive movement resulting in enjoyment rather than frustration. However, it is a challenge getting an ASD individual to concentrate on such a sport.

Role of a love hormone in ASD
Why is it called the “love hormone”? Several articles explain that which you might enjoy reading in eurekalert, by Craig Andrews, by clicking here. What is the role of this hormone in conception to pregnancy and how is it involved in autism spectrum disorder? Researchers will labor on to find the answers.

Role of infant food in allergy
With the observation that certain diets reduce the risk of allergy in infants, one begins to wonder about the role of introduction of chemicals during conception and pregnancy that might interfere with hormones like the love hormone involved in development of normal brain circuits. To read the article on role of processed food and infant allergy click here by the scientist Kate Grimshaw (University of Southampton, UK).  In this article, the scientist published results of research on correlation between infant dietary pattern in first year of infancy and development of food allergy by age two.  Babies brought up on fresh food, presented lower allergy rates.

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SynapDx Corporation lands 15.4 million for Big Autism clinical Study


Geneticists and venture capitalists alike believe that a Massachusetts-based company, SynapDx, can develop the earliest and most informative blood test for autism, and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) using advanced technologies. They specialize in differential expression of certain genes in blood cells that may form the basis of an ASD biomarker. The best diagnostic tests in the near future will combine the knowledge of your genomes, which you inherited from your parents and will pass on to your children, with the technology of computer skills able to handle incredibly large data. A medical technology startup, SynapDx, is currently studying large databases of children who have been clinically diagnosed with autism to discover a shared genomic blueprint. Since all children do not have autism, there might be a particular genomic blueprint among the children that are diagnosed with autism. It is also working on a RNA based blood test to differentiate between patients referred for developmental concerns.  Interested in SynapDx’s clinical study for autism? To learn more click here.

Venture Capital
A group of venture capitalists led by Google Ventures have backed SynapDx autism blood test with 15.4 million, which will help fund the large-scale effort to research 660 children at the same time using advanced computer technology.  The children will be between the ages of 18 months and five years in North America and include children from the Lurie Center of Autism in Massachusetts.  The study will be led by Stan Lapidus, the company CEO. The potential to diagnose children at a very young age, as early as 19 months, is a breakthrough technology currently in clinical trials. Today, an autism diagnosis can be confirmed when a child is 4-5 years, when a child can no longer communicate effectively in society.  This is considered disastrously late.  This infusion of funding will enable the clinical trial to be expanded to 20 sites. The hope is that Google’s expertise with handling big data will aid in pinpointing the role of genome changes in early autism diagnosis.

Autism Diagnosis and Therapy
The earlier a child is diagnosed, the faster a parent may be advised to begin therapy and the use of communication aids. The ipad from Apple company has been a boon for children with ASD helping them to communicate more effectively. More such Apps are also being funded for development to simultaneously pair with therapy of autism.

The role of the gut microbiome has also been recognized as critical since all children with autism have very restrictive eating habits. Research into probiotics and prebiotics are playing a significant role in therapy of autism and ASD. Read “Related Articles” below.

Hopefully, researchers will be able to find a clue as to why parents with multiple sclerosis have children with autism, allergy, and ASD. Is there a genomic blueprint that predisposes a family when exposed to certain unknown triggers? When exposed as a child – ASD; when exposed as an adult – multiple sclerosis. Read “Related Articles” below for discussions on autism, role of aging parents, shank gene, coffee intake of father, G-proteins that try to prevent autism, gut microbiome and good/bad germs, role of Vit-D, and more.

Is Autism observed only in Developed Countries?
Although, this company may only provide a partial answer to the mysterious rise in the number of children developing autism, especially boys, it may give researchers a clue into why children from certain ethnicities develop autism when born in developed countries. Why is autism not observed in developing countries? To read a discussion click here for “Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?”.  Autism does not discriminate by ethnicity.  It has been observed in Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics and blacks. When children of Somali descent are born in underdeveloped Somalia, they do not develop autism while they do in developed countries like Sweden and USA.  This has led to research on the role of Vitamin D from sunlight in autism, since Somalia is in Africa and has mostly sunny days, while Sweden and USA have far less sunny days, and more indoor activities of an advanced civilization with computer games and television. However, since all children in Sweden and USA have mostly similar indoor activities, why do only some of them have autism? The answer may lie in their genomic blueprint differences and/or exposure to a yet unknown environmental trigger.

Today, developing countries may show more cases of dyslexia or mild autism spectrum disorder. However, as these countries become more like Sweden or USA, will there be more cases of autism diagnosed there too? The answer might be yes, since the autism trigger suspects might be in a developed country lifestyle.  The answer might lie in the way we eat, live, clean, and prevent in an effort to be healthier.  Yet, in that very effort we may unwarily be introducing the triggers like pesticides or herbicides or toxic landfills and spills, that set up local children for autism by damaging the genome of the growing delicate foetus in the womb, depleting our gut of healthy germs that protect symbiotically, or by not understanding all the complex cellular interactions of some of our vaccine components and how they interact with a damaged genome (see below Related Articles).

Related Articles
Autism
The Gut Microbiota: your good germ friends to nurture to strengthen your immune system against “Allergy”
Worm Theory: to improve the immune system to fight asthma, multiple sclerosis and more
Autistic child or severely Allergic child with Multiple Sclerosis parent
G proteins: the connector proteins that try to prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder
Know your G proteins: relevant for Allergy, Autism, Aspergers and ASD
Four facts about allergy: parents, children, patients, genes and researchers
Autism in pristine Phu Quoc island of Vietnam – is the rise in numbers simple overdiagnosis?
A single shared component has been confirmed in allergy and autoimmune diseases
World’s largest collection of frozen Autism brains ruined in freezer malfunction
Are we less healthy than our parents and grandparents – both mentally and physically?
Are there any Gays and Lesbians who are autistic?
Why and how to add Calcium in the diet of a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Autism in pristine Phu Quoc island of Vietnam – is the rise in numbers simple overdiagnosis?


Phu Quoc is a pristine, mountainous, Vietnamese island, surrounded by sun-drenced beaches and clear, blue water, about 70 miles off the coast of Cambodia.  Most of the island is covered by Phu Quoc National Forest. The main industries are plantations and fish sauce. It hosts the annual Vietnam Kennel Association (VKA) Phu Quoc National Dog Show. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is a native dog breed with web feet, an island treasure that has thrived on Phu Quoc Island since the 19th century. Yet, Aeir Talk, an App for a communication device for autistic kids, believes that this island would benefit from knowledge that a device to assist Autistic kids exists (Click here for advertisement, by scrolling below to a post by Jav123 on Mar 2012). Why should this remote island be interested in an Autism device? Read about the naval history of this island in Vietnam by clicking here.

Should men be more careful about protecting their sperm before they begin to make babies? Fathers provide the sperm and the mother, as you know, provides the egg and when the egg is fertilized by the sperm the baby results. There is increasing evidence that the father or grandfather may contribute a new genetic change that might be inherited; such a new genetic change when perhaps exposed  to an otherwise harmless environmental pollutant becomes a “toxin” to this child carrying this new genetic change. The grandfather may even pass this new genetic trait through his daughters. Fathers have been cautioned against excessive coffee drinking three months before making babies. Perhaps fathers need to avoid exposure to environmental triggers too? Maybe, strategic research would help to pinpoint such triggers and help prevent more autism related to exposures of potential fathers in the future. History cannot be changed but our society is quite capable of taking action when inspired. Read Lynne Peeple’s Huffington Post article (May 2012) on the rising rates of autism by clicking here.

Rise of Autism in some countries

Here is an article detailing and discussing the rise of autism in Vietnam. Among Asian countries, this country appears to have far higher rates. Is it simply a matter of higher diagnosis? You may click here to read this brief article (March, 2013) in a China Weekly newspaper, on the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. This may be of interest to international researchers of Autism. Why Hanoi? Hopefully, even searching for an answer in Hanoi will lead researchers closer to factors that might trigger ASD.

Is the rise of Autism simply overdiagnosis?

There is no doubt that some cases of ASD are simply over diagnosed. However, once you have been in the same room, train, class room, event with a kid (mostly boys) with even an average level of ASD or worse autism, even as a non – psychologiist you will know that the child needs help. The uneducated citizen might request that this child be punished for “misbehavior” or request this child “shut-up” or “stop shuffing people or yelling”. Those aware of ASD will realize this is a child with autism or aspergers and intervene on behalf of the child. As those educated about this growing issue of ASD know, this child’s mind is fully knowledgeable and understands but cannot control his/her actions. Give the child an ipad and this child will communicate to those in the room and may even apologize but unable to stop the movement or noise causing the discomfort to the public. As a society, together we can help prevent future suffering. We are losing our boys and some girls. Your opinion matters. If you suspect any factor that could be contributing to the growing rise of autism/asperbers/allergy/ASD do not hesitate to share. None of us want to lose the advantages of modern conveniences. We cannot imagine life without cars, trains, and automobiles, aeroplanes and modern industry, modern agriculture and green lawns without weeds. Yet, since progress must come with side effects, let’s discover how to live together safely, among these industrial advantages. We are quite capable of dealing with and preventing side effects.

Which other countries have higher rates of Autism than their neighboring countries?

Which countries have similar health and hospital facilities and yet have higher levels of Autism? There have been indications that areas with higher automobile oil manufacturing chemical waste, may have higher rates of autism or childhood leukemia. Some elementary classrooms in such locations have several children arriving to school in wheelchairs with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or many parents waiting together outside a local pediatric hospital which had not timely diagnosed their infants with childhood leukemia; four year olds were dying. Autism aids are in many such classrooms. Is there a connection? Can some action steps put in place protective and preventive features perhaps in the local water system or the herbicide spraying system in home lawns to protect possible harm to the sperm and egg? Would there be a connection with such chemical waste and a carrier of the new genetic inherited trait? If you have answers or suggestions do share. 

Related Article:

Why is there little Autism in under-developed countries?

The G-proteins, the connector proteins that try to prevent autism spectrum disorder.

Phu Quoc – Vietnam’s largest island and home of the Phu Quoc National Forest

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Proteins neuroligins and neurexins are important in Autism and Schizophrenia


Although heredity has been implicated in over 80% of Autism and Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder cases, no single gene or cluster of genes has stood out to be the culprit or cause for these disorders. Genes are normally present as a single entity on a chromosome strand. Sometimes, more than one copy of a gene on a strand may be present. The copy number of genes that encode for proteins neurexins and neuroligin are variable and likely to be present in some individuals who have autism or schizophrenia. However, they may not be the cause of autism or schizophrenia in every  individual carrying a copy number variation of these genes. This complicates research.  Another external factor has to be the “triger” which when present (could it be an environmental toxin or perhaps a bout of gastroenteritis during a MMR vaccine shot or an unknown factor/s) along with a variable copy number of neurexin or neuroligin gene may result in an autistic child or a schizophrenic individual.

Abstract

There is strong evidence that genetic factors make substantial contributions to the etiology of autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, with heritability estimates being at least 80% for each. These illnesses have complex inheritance, with multiple genetic and environmental factors influencing disease risk; however, in psychiatry, complex genetics is further compounded by phenotypic complexity. Autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are effectively syndromic constellations of symptoms that define groups of patients with broadly similar outcomes and responses to treatment. As such the diagnostic categories are likely to be heterogeneous and the boundaries between them somewhat arbitrary. Recent applications of whole-genome technologies have discovered rare copy number variants and common single-nucleotide polymorphisms that are associated with risk of developing these disorders. Furthermore, these studies have shown an overlap between the genetic loci and even alleles that predispose to the different phenotypes. The findings have several implications. First, they show that copy number variations are likely to be important risk factors for autism and schizophrenia, whereas common single-nucleotide polymorphism alleles have a role in all disorders. Second, they imply that there are specific genetic loci and alleles that increase an individual’s risk of developing any of these disorders. Finally, the findings suggest that some of the specific genetic loci implicated so far encode proteins, such as neurexins and neuroligins, that function in synaptic development and plasticity, and therefore may represent a common biological pathway for these disorders.

One cannot help wondering naturally, if Autism and Schizophrenia can be prevented. With more research on genetics and environment or trigger, with a lot of public help. What kind of help? If the research community joined the public community to form a scientific table of exposures and gene copy variation and family occupations and bouts of gastroenteritis a few months before or after vaccination and toxic spill near home community or home built on previously heavily fertilized agricultural land or father working in a pesticide or herbicide exposed occupation or home lawn heavily sprayed with a pesticide or herbicide or community water exposed to run-off from pesticide and herbicide or a toxic dump site and so much more. Science research is not funded enough to recruit large scale public help or to inspire large community assistance. Together we can tackle this scourge and prevent future cases of Autism, and perhaps Schizophrenia. Inspire your community to encourage scientists to join in a larger than ever world-wide community to volunteer information in a legitimate manner that can be scientifically analyzed. Together we can do it!

A journal article published in Genome Medicine 2009, 1:102  by Liam S Carroll and Michael J Owen, which you may click here to read, researchers the genetics in detail described above. An excerpt is quoted below.

Background

It has long been recognized that psychiatric disorders and symptoms aggregate in families and the evidence for a substantial role for genetic factors is incontrovertible [1]. Genetic epidemiological studies of autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia show that the risk of developing one of these specific psychiatric illnesses is proportional to the amount of genetic material shared with an affected individual [1]. Heritability has been estimated as being at least 80% for all these disorders [24], which, to put it in context, is equivalent to that for type I diabetes (about 80%) [5] but greater than that for breast cancer [6] or Parkinson’s disease [7].

 Do encourage this researcher with requests for further research on this topic if you appreciated this research group’s work. Do write to the research lab, do invite them for talks if they are near you, and do encourage them in your own unique style. Mention that you enjoyed their 2009 journal article on the variable gene copy number of the brain proteins.
Email:   Michael J Owen OwenMJ@cf.ac.uk
Address:
Liam S Carroll and Michael J Owen
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics,
Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology, Cardiff University,
Henry Wellcome Building, Heath Park,
Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK

http://genomemedicine.com/content/1/10/102

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World’s largest collection of frozen Autism brains ruined in freezer malfunction


Harvard University’s brain bank at McLean Hospital in Belmont,Massachusetts, had frozen 147 brains for research purposes. They were damaged in late May 2012 for three to four days, in a freezer malfunction. The distressing fact is that 53 or one-third of those brains had been derived from rare, diseased autistic persons. This will certainly slow Autism research in particular, since the rise in Autism cases has been observed only in recent decades and the reason for this spike is not understood. About 1 in 100 children born today in the developed world may be diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder with the percentage observed to be higher in boys than girls. These frozen autistic brains may have held a clue. They may have provided a direction for future autism research direction. They may have helped autism researchers suggest current, preventive measures faster, and sooner so that as a society we can help prevent any child in the future to be burdened with this “mind fogging, communication disabling” brain condition.

The loss of these brains to the researchers is a major step back for the public health of a developed country like USA or Sweden. Somali immigrants from Somalia, Africa to USA and Sweden have noticed that autism has been diagnosed only in the Somali children born in USA or Sweden but not in Somalia. They insist it has never been observed in the Somali children born in Somalia (Read here). Recently, researchers have begun to look at what environmental or exogenous conditions, in addition to perhaps a genetic predisposition could cause a child to develop the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Such research teams are being led by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden and the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Dr. Susan Hyman, the chair of the Autism Subcommittee of the American Academy of Pediatrics. To better understand what they do not know, to identify the risk factors, to pinpoint why boys are five times more likely than girls and to better prevent Autism are some of the goals of the researchers (Read here May 29, 2012 interview by pbs.org).

The NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank for Developmental Disorders at the University of Maryland and the Harvard center at McLean are the only repositories in the US that distribute autism brain tissue to researchers around the world. Autism brain donors are in short supply.

Walk Now For Autism Research say Thomas, who has an amazing lightening-fast brain; and his mom, Dagny Power, a member of “Libertyville district 70” team

To read the scientific explanation and implication of the loss of the frozen brains click on this link for the premier blog by nature.com on June 11, 2012. What is perplexing is that both the main alarm and the back up alarm to monitor the temperature of the freezer failed. This article discusses in detail the human and technological errors that may have caused such a major loss. Apparently, all the frozen brains had been transferred to a single freezer instead of the normal 24 freezers because of a special visit by the Autism tissue program in preparation for distribution to brain sample requests by autism researchers.

Fortunately, the DNA in these brains will probably be intact into the infinite future. However, the RNA and protein matter by nature is very fragile and was destroyed, and lost to researchers. It is a public loss.

Related Articles
G proteins – the connector proteins that try to prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder
List of Autism events in USA – walk or speak for Autism
Preclinical studies: Autism compound KM-391 significantly decreased plasticity of brains and increased serotoninlevels
Half of each brain preserved in formaldehyde available for research purposes by Martina’s blog
Call for more oversight to Freezer safety and attention by Jeff Evans of Clinical Neurology News
Brain samples from people who had died and who had had conditions such as autism, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or schizophrenia by Lifescience Log

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Preclinical studies: Autism compound, KM-391, significantly decreased plasticity of the brain and increased serotonin levels


Cellceutix is developing an experimental drug, KM – 391, to treat autism.  Cellceutix, is a biopharmaceutical company developing small molecule drugs to treat diseases like Autism, Psoriasis and Cancer. To read a report, which includes a link to listen to an interview with the CEO of Cellceutix, Leo Ehrlich, by The Street Beat on April 26 & 27, 2012, with Bolton Flautt, click here.  To read the article on the small molecules being developed by Cellceutix by Len Zehr in Seeking Alpha click here.

KM-391Clinical Trial Data in Animals

Preclinical studies have shown that administration of the autism compound, KM-391, significantly decreased plasticity of the brain and increased serotonin levels in all three regions of the brain: cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and caudate nucleus, from very low levels, as seen with 5, 7-Dihydroxytryptamine (5, 7-DHT)-induced autism, to normal levels, as observed in placebo-treated control without the neurotoxin 5, 7-DHT.

Cellceutix recently acquired the small molecule technology and began preclinical trials in animals. They conducted three studies, which you may click here to read in detail on Cellceutix site. It includes:
1. Summary of the first animal studies with KM-391
2. KM-391 second study at a prestigious research institute in India
3. KM-391 Third Study – Serotonin Levels Measured in Three Different Regions of the Brain.

Second animal study – Autism 391

“These results support KM-391 as a possible therapeutic agent in the treatment of autism in patients,” Mr. Ehrlich contends. “If we can deal with the core issues of autism and not just the symptoms of the disease, it would be a major breakthrough and offer hope to families and patients who suffer from autism.”

Based on results from a third animal study showed KM-391 was a possible therapeutic agent in the treatment of autism in patients, CEO Leo Ehrlich says Cellceutix is working on possible collaborations to further develop the autism compound, which can be quite expensive.  It has a memorandum of understanding with a company in India, able to financially support and implement all the pharmacology, preclinical work, including cGMP manufacturing, and toxicology, in compliance with U.S. IND requirements.

On November, 2011 announced Cellceutix Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Krishna Menon, “We are extremely pleased to add Dr. Marks to our team. We have assembled a world-class advisory board with Dr. Emil Frei, Dr. Samuel Danishefsky, Dr. Paul Ginsburg and now Dr. Paul Marks. Going forward with Kevetrin™ in clinical trials, as well as other drugs in our pipeline, their experience and knowledge will play a key role in our success”. Dr. Marks served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (“MSKCC”) from 1980 to 1999. His addition to the board shows the firms commitment is towards their cancer drug, also currently in the pipeline.

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Related Articles: 
Why is Autism seen In Developed countries and not in Underdeveloped countries?
G proteins – Their role in prevention of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autistic child and multiple sclerosis parent – a connection here?
Why is Autism rising?

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