Author Interviews, Autism, Medical Imaging / 02.04.2022

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alpen ORTUĞ, PhD Postdoctoral Research FellowMassachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiology Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging Boston, MA   MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings? Response: Finding the earliest diagnosis possible for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the main goals for researchers studying ASD. This study aimed to investigate the critical abnormalities in prenatal brain development in ASD using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We hypothesized that volumetric analyses of brain segmentations are useful to identify such abnormalities before birth. We have retrospectively analyzed fetal MRI based on the knowledge that the same individuals were later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We have evaluated developmental abnormalities in brain structures of prospective ASD fetuses using volumetric segmentation. The current study is still preliminary, but the ‘insula’ of the brain showed statistically significant volumetric enlargement in prospective ASD patients, compared to the other three control groups.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Cannabis, JAMA, Pediatrics / 28.05.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daimei Sasayama, M.D., Ph.D. Department of Psychiatry Shinshu University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is increasing worldwide. A 2016 US survey reported a prevalence of 1.85% in 8-year-olds, and a birth cohort study in Denmark reported that the future cumulative incidence of ASD could exceed 2.8%. Our recent regional cohort study in Japan reported an even higher cumulative incidence of 3.1%. So we examined whether the cumulative incidence in our regional cohort represents the nationwide incidence in Japan.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 08.03.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Kevin Lu PhD Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences College of Pharmacy Medical University of South Carolina MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Response: It is documented that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing in the past few years. However, no information on potential racial and ethnic disparities in ASD diagnosis can be found in the literature. Most recently, the possible structural racism and health inequities have been a concern for the public and policy makers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Fertility, Genetic Research / 12.01.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Skinner,  PhD Eastlick Distinguished Professor Founding Director, Center for Reproductive Biology School of Biological Sciences Washington State University Pullman WA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Over twenty years ago we identified the existence of a non-genetic form of inheritance through analysis of environmentally induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease, now well established in a number of species including humans.  I was giving a talk on this topic at a meeting in Spain.   This study was initiated following the scientific meeting in Spain with an in vitro fertilization clinical group that said they had access to sperm from males with and without autistic children.  It took several years to collect and characterize the samples, and find financial support for the study.  Once this was done then we did the molecular analysis to see if the sperm from fathers with autistic children had epigenetic, DNA methylation alterations, that associated with them having offspring with autism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Education, Pediatrics / 21.12.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andrey Vyshedskiy PhD Boston University, Boston MedicalResearch.com: What is the background of ImagiRation? https://imagiration.com/ Response: ImagiRation is a Boston-based startup with links to MIT, Harvard, and Boston University. ImagiRation has developed a highly innovative adaptive language therapy application for children with autism, Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA). MedicalResearch.com: How is the Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism program delivered? Response: MITA language therapy is administered by parents at home. MITA application works on all smartphones and tablet devices and is designed for children ages 2 to 12 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, JAMA, Pediatrics / 31.08.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jessica Shoaff, MPH, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Susan A. Korrick, MD Pulmonary and Critical Care Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Harvard Medical School · Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Brigham and Women's Hospital Channing Laboratory Boston, MA 02115   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our study posed the question:  Do teenagers’ exposures to chemicals that are often found in consumer products increase behaviors that are common among individuals diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Our results suggest that teenagers exposed to chemicals often found in consumer products (particularly phthalates) may have increased behaviors that are common among individuals diagnosed with ADHD.  However, we did not study the diagnosis of ADHD (most of our study teens did not have ADHD).  This means our results cannot answer the question of whether these chemical exposures increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD. Also, in our study design, chemical exposures and ADHD-related behaviors were measured at the same time, so it is not possible to know with certainty whether the chemical exposures altered behavior or behavior altered chemical exposures.  (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Autism, Medical Imaging, Mental Health Research, MRI, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurology, Technology / 23.12.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sebastian Magda, Ph.D Director of Science & Engineering CorTechs Labs, Inc MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Previous studies have shown that the changes of brain structure volume and/or metabolic activity are associated with various neurological diseases. We have created an artificial intelligence clinical decision support tool based on brain volumetric and PET metabolic activity measurements as well as other clinical measurements. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Neurology / 11.12.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Neil Dawson PhD Senior Lecturer Lancaster University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Deletions on chromosome 2p16.3, involving deletion of the NEUREXIN1 gene, dramatically increase the risk of developing a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, Tourette’s syndrome and schizophrenia. We don’t fully understand the mechanisms involved. In our study we wanted to understand how the genetic deletion impacts on brain function and the ability of brain regions to communicate with one another, as these are known to be impaired in these neurodevelopmental disorders. We also wanted to determine how the genetic deletion impacts on the function of neurotransmitter systems involved in these disorders, and whether drugs targeting these neurotransmitter systems could restore some of the deficits in brain function seen. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Genetic Research, Nature, Pediatrics / 10.12.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Stephen Scherer, PhD, FRSC Senior Scientist, Genetics & Genome Biology Director, The Centre for Applied Genomics SickKids Hospital Toronto MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: One of the most common questions we get from parents with a child with autism is, "what is the likelihood of having a second or third child with autism, and what is the chance others in our family will have kids with autism?". To help provide answers to these questions, we started the infant (or baby) siblings study ten years ago. Families having an older sibling with a diagnosis of autism were invited to enroll their next born for assessment and following to see if they also developed autism, and what the likelihood of that happening was. Biological samples like blood, and DNA from blood, were also collected and tested.  (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, OBGYNE / 30.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tianyang Zhang, MSc Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience Stockholm Health Care Services, Stockholm County Council Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We know that births by caesarean delivery are linked to several negative health outcomes in the children, such as obesity, asthma, allergy, and type 1 diabetes. However, the association between c-section and neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders has been less studied. In addition, it is unclear whether the extent of this association is different if a caesarean section is performed planned in advance or urgently due to medical reasons during a delivery. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics / 05.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andrey Vyshedskiy PhD Boston University, Boston MedicalResearch.com: What gave you the idea for the paper?   Response: I have been interested in the physical properties of imagination since I was nine years old, and was involved in related research since my undergraduate studies. Having been trained in neuroscience, I set out to understand the neurological basis of imagination pertaining to the differences between humans and other animals. In 2008, after fifteen years of research, I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and published the first edition of “On the Origin of the Human Mind.” From that period to the present day, I have continued to work on the same subject. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Occupational Health / 08.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ginny Russell, PhD College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter Medical School University of Exeter Exeter United Kingdom  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study was done to find out what autistic adults could tell us about their own abilities. They told us about their abilities and how these abilities had helped them in their everyday lives: at work, in their relationships with other people, and at home. Hyper focus, attention to detail, and the ability to remember were the abilities that autistic people said benefitted them most often. But autistic adults who were interviewed said although their autistic traits were sometimes helpful, at other times they hindered their progress. So the same trait might be useful in some circumstances and unhelpful in other situations. For example, hypersensitivity led one person to enjoy nature, but was difficult to cope with in crowded streets. The study highlights this interchangeability. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Social Issues, University of Pittsburgh, Vaccine Studies / 26.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate student University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Research Assistant, University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Vaccine refusal is a public health crisis - low vaccination rates are leading to outbreaks of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh-based pediatric practice, posted a video on its Facebook pagef eaturing its practitioners encouraging HPV vaccination to prevent cancer. Nearly a month after the video posted, it caught the attention of multiple anti-vaccination groups and, in an eight-day period, garnered thousands of anti-vaccination comments. Our team analyzed the profiles of a randomly selected sample of 197 commenters in the hopes that this crisis may be stemmed if we can better understand and communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents. We determined that, although Kids Plus Pediatrics is an independent practice caring for patients in the Pittsburgh region, the commenters in the sample were spread across 36 states and eight countries. By delving into the messages that each commenter had publicly posted in the previous two years, we also found that they clustered into four distinct subgroups:
  • “trust,” which emphasized suspicion of the scientific community and concerns about personal liberty;
  • “alternatives,” which focused on chemicals in vaccines and the use of homeopathic remedies instead of vaccination;
  • “safety,” which focused on perceived risks and concerns about vaccination being immoral; and
  • “conspiracy,” which suggested that the government and other entities hide information that this subgroup believes to be facts, including that the polio virus does not exist. 
(more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 04.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tjasa Velikonja, PhD Department of Psychiatry The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, New York MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Autism is a lifelong condition, and challenges associated with autism persist from childhood into adulthood. Despite this, research and treatment have been largely dedicated to children. Because of that, we had very little understanding of what areas – what cognitive domains - are most severely impacted in adults with autism. Importantly, the lack of such information also limits treatment development in this area. What is known already is that adults with autism display deficits in social cognition (which refers to the role that cognitive processes play in our social interactions). Although our meta-analysis supported these theories, it also highlighted several other challenges in cognitive processing, such as deficits in processing speed and verbal learning and memory. And these impairments were observed in adults with autism without an overall intellectual disability. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Pediatrics, UC Davis / 10.12.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Meghan Miller, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences UC Davis MIND Institute Sacramento, CA 95817 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study evaluated within-diagnosis sibling recurrence and sibling cross-aggregation of ADHD and autism spectrum disorder among later-born siblings of diagnosed children. We specifically chose to include only families who had at least one subsequent child after the diagnosis of an older child because failing to do so could bias recurrence risk estimates. We found that, compared to later-born siblings of non-diagnosed children, later-born siblings of children with autism were more likely to be diagnosed with autism or with ADHD. Likewise, compared to later-born siblings of non-diagnosed children, later-born siblings of children with ADHD were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or with autism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics / 05.12.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Kogan, Ph.D. Director of the office of Epidemiology and Research Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This was a study led by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, along with researchers from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard, Drexel, and George Washington Universities.  We used the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a nationally representative survey of over 50,000 children that examines the health and well-being of US children, to examine the prevalence, treatment, and health care experiences of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We found that 1 out of 40 children in the US were reported by their parents to have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  We also found that children with ASD were significantly less likely to receive services like needed care coordination, referrals to other services, and mental health counseling – even compared to children with other emotional, behavioral or developmental disorders (EBDs).  Parents of children with ASD were also significantly more likely to report being usually or always frustrated in their attempts to get services, again compared to families of children with other EBDs. Finally, we looked at treatment patterns for children with ASD and found that 64% had received behavioral therapy in the year before the interview, and 27% had received medications to treat symptoms of irritability.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Nature, Pediatrics / 27.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Lombardo, PhD Assistant professor of Psychology the University of Cyprus  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Autism is a diagnostic label we give to children with difficulties in the areas of social-communication and restricted, repetitive stereotyped behaviors and interests. The diagnosis is made based on observations about behavior and is a consensus label, meaning that clinicians can show high degrees of agreement that a given set of behaviors is ‘autism’. But aside from the diagnostic label, there is a fair degree of heterogeneity within patients that have the diagnosis. One way in which patients are heterogeneous is with regard to early language development. Some toddlers with autism are minimally verbal, while at the other end, many toddlers with autism develop language typically. An important question to answer is whether that kind of difference in language development indicates a subtype with different underlying biology. To examine this question, we first split toddlers with autism into two subtypes defined by their language outcome at 4 years of age. Some toddlers were classified as poor language outcome, because their language performance was 1 standard deviation below typical norms. Other toddlers with autism had relatively good language outcome, as their language performance by 4 years of age was within 1 standard deviation of typical norms. We also measured the biology behind these two autism subtypes. First we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is a non-invasive method to look at blood oxygenation response that changes according to a task. Blood oxygenation changes are an indirect measure of neural activity. We used fMRI during natural sleep at around 29 months of age while the toddlers were played language stimuli through headphones to elicit neural responses to speech. Second, we measured molecular aspects of biology, by taking blood samples, isolating leukocyte cells, and then quantifying gene expression for all protein coding genes in the genome, at around the same time as the fMRI scan. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, JAMA, Pediatrics / 16.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: "Cairo Air Pollution with less smog - Pyramids1" by Nina Hale is licensed under CC BY 2.0Lief Pagalan, MSc Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University Research Trainee, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Pregnant women more heavily exposed to air pollution had higher chances of having children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The causes of ASD are not fully understood, but this study adds to the growing evidence that environmental risk factors have a role to play. Our study found an association between autism spectrum disorder in the children of women more heavily exposed to air pollution. We observed these results using well-defined cases of ASD and in Vancouver, Canada, which typically has lower air pollution. These findings are consistent with studies done in the U.S., Israel, and Taiwan, which have also found an increased risk of ASD from exposure to air pollution.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Biomarkers, Genetic Research / 12.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Steven D. Hicks, M.D.,Ph.D Department of Pediatrics Penn State College of Medicine Hershey, PA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since autism has both genetic and environmental underpinnings, my colleagues and I suspected that transcriptional elements (e.g. regulatory RNA molecules) might be different in the saliva of children with autism compared to peers without autism. We used a non-biased approach to analyze saliva from 372 children, and allowed machine learning techniques to inform which RNA elements best predicted autism status. To our surprise, microbial RNA levels and human RNA levels were equally powerful in predicting which children had autism. This may be because some children with autism eat restricted diets, resist tooth brushing, or put foreign objects in their mouths. The end result was a panel of 32 RNAs (20 human and 12 bacterial) that identified autism with 87% accuracy. Interestingly, when we tested the panel in a completely separate set of 84 children (including children from a different geographic region) the accuracy remained 88%.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, OBGYNE / 01.11.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Magdalena Janecka PhD Department of Psychiatry Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Our paper explored the association between maternal use of medication during pregnancy and the rates of autism in a large cohort from Israel. This followed on from a number of earlier studies reporting that the use of certain medications - for example antidepressants - during pregnancy is associated with higher rates of autism in children. However, rather than test the effects of any particular drug, or a set of drugs aggregated based on maternal condition, our large dataset allowed us to group all medications prescribed to pregnant women based on their drug target, and in the subsequent analyses focus on over 50 groups that included drugs with neurotransmitter-relevant targets - for example agonists and antagonists of their receptors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Education, Exercise - Fitness, Pediatrics / 26.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Marcus Smith PhD Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology University of Chichester Co-founder, Clem Burke Drumming ProjectDr. Marcus Smith PhD Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology University of Chichester Co-founder, Clem Burke Drumming Project MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The research group first started to examine rock drumming from a scientific perspective in 1999 through collaboration with Clem Burke, drummer with the iconic band ‘Blondie’. In 2008 the Clem Burke Drumming Project (CBDP) was formed (visit clemburkedrummingproject.org for further information) where academics from different disciplines came together to not only explore the physiological demands of rock drumming but also the potential use of rock drumming as an intervention in research studies. Rock drumming is attractive to the scientist in that it is a unique activity that requires the coordination of multiple limbs to produce the required drumming pattern. Inherent demands relating to timing, tempo and volume must also be met. Therefore, the ability to manipulate these facets of drumming performance in a research setting is very appealing. In relation to potential research populations drumming has a universal fascination regardless of age, gender, culture, language competency and ethnicity. Anecdotal evidence suggests that drumming is a ‘cool’ activity that has a unique ‘language currency’ in terms of stimulating communication within and between those who can and cannot play the drums. The impetus for our research study came from parents of autistic children contacting us to express their belief that drumming was having a positive effect on their child’s physical and psychological behaviour. A review of the literature showed a range of anecdotal evidence in support of such statements (Freidman 2000) and an increase in empirical drumming based research being undertaken (Bungay 2010). More recent studies have reported psychosocial benefits such as enhanced communication (Maschi et al. 2010; 2012), emotional processing and tension reduction (Flores et al. 2016; Maschi et al. 2010; 2012), group cohesion and connectedness (Blackett et al. 2005), concentration, psychomotor coordination and posture (Chen et al. 2017). The majority of this work was undertaken with adolescents with very little work focused on younger age groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Microbiome / 16.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: quadrant biosciencesSteven D. Hicks, MD PhD Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Division of Academic General Pediatrics Hershey, PA, 17033‐0850 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ​Previous studies have shown that disrupting the community of bacteria in the gut can lead to autism-like behavior in animals. In humans interventions aimed at improving the intestinal microbiome have also led to changes in autism behavior. Here, we examined whether autism-related changes in microbial activity extended to the mouth and throat. We were interested in this site because it provides the initial interface between host immunity and microbe exposure. By examining nearly 350 children with autism, typical development, or developmental delay (without autism) we identified 12 groups of oral bacteria with unique activity patterns in children with autism. Interestingly, microbial activity (measured by RNA sequencing) also differed between children with autism and gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances and peers with autism but no GI disturbance. Levels of several microbes also displayed correlations with measures of autism behaviors. We utilized microbial activity patterns to create diagnostic panels that displayed accuracy for distinguishing children with autism from peers with typical development (79.5% accuracy) or developmental delay (76.5% accuracy).  (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Autism, Pediatrics / 14.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Driving” by Martin Alvarez Espinar is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kristina Elise Patrick, Ph.D Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, OH 43205 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Many families of young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are concerned that they may have difficulty acquiring driver’s licenses and driving safely because of symptoms of ASD. However, the ability to drive opens the door to a variety of social, occupational, and educational experiences. We aimed to assess differences in simulated driving behaviors of young adults with ASD and those with typical development and to evaluate whether differences depended on level of driving experience and complexity of the driving task. On average, young adults with ASD had more difficulty regulating their speed and position within their lane compared with typically developing individuals even on a very basic rural route. After completing the basic route, drivers were required to engage in more complex tasks such as changing the radio or engaging in conversation while driving, driving through a construction zone, and following behind a truck. On complex driving tasks, drivers with ASD who had acquired licensure drove similarly to typically developing drivers who had acquired licensure. However, novice drivers with ASD had more difficulty than typically developing drivers regulating their speed and position within the lane. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, Autism, JAMA, Pediatrics / 10.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wei Bao, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Epidemiology College of Public Health University of Iowa MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies indicated a possible link between immunologic dysfunction and autism. The current study, based on nationally representative large-scale surveys, showed that food allergy, respiratory allergy, and skin allergy, all relevant to immunological dysfunction, were associated with autism spectrum disorder among US children. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, JAMA, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 08.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Blood Pressure” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ali Khashan, PhD Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology School of Public Health & INFANT Centre University College Cork Cork, Ireland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is some evidence to suggest an increased likelihood of neurodevelopmental disorders in relation to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, however consensus is lacking. Considering hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are among the most common prenatal complication, we decided to synthesise the published literature on this topic by conducting a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Our main findings suggest that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are associated with about 30% increase in the likelihood of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD in the offspring, compared to offspring not exposed to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Dental Research, Mineral Metabolism, Pediatrics / 31.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “baby teeth” by Thomas Ricker is licensed under CC BY 2.0Christine Austin PhD Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies have shown that some metals (nutrients and toxicants) are absorbed and metabolized differently in children with autism spectrum disorder compared to neuro-typical children. However, it is not known when this dysregulation occurs and it is incredibly difficult to study prenatal metal metabolism. Teeth, which begin forming prenatally, grow by adding a new layer every day, much like the yearly growth rings in trees. Each layer formed captures many of the chemicals circulating in the body at the time. We have developed a method to measure metals in these layers to build a timeline of metal exposure during the prenatal and early childhood period. We found that the cycles of copper and zinc metabolism were disrupted in children with ASD and used this feature to develop a method to predict the emergence of autism spectrum disorder with 90% accuracy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Environmental Risks, Fish, OBGYNE, Toxin Research / 23.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Fish” by Dhruvaraj S is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Caroline M Taylor Wellcome Trust Research Fellow Centre for Child and Adolescent Health Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Mercury is a toxic metal that is widespread in the environment. In pregnancy, mercury in the mother’ bloodstream is transferred through the placenta to the fetus, where is can affect development of the nervous system. Mercury from vaccines has been the focus of attention particularly in regard to a link with autism in children. However, the amount of mercury used in the vaccines is small in comparison with mercury from the diet and atmospheric pollution, and in the EU at least, childhood vaccines no longer contain this preservative. The fear that mercury is linked to autism has persisted, despite increasing evidence that this is not the case. The aim of our study was to look at mercury from the diet rather than vaccines – specifically from fish – in pregnant women. We measured the women’s mercury levels in their blood and asked them about how much fish they ate. We then followed up their children for 9 years and recorded how many of them had autism diagnosed within that time. We also measured how many of them had autist traits by measuring their social and communication difficulties.  The data were part of the Children of the 90s study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children – ALSPAC), which is based in Bristol, UK. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Pharmaceutical Companies, Roche, Vanderbilt / 16.02.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Kevin Sanders, MD Principle Medical Director-Product Development Neuroscience Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Vanderbilt University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this announcement?  Response: The FDA has granted Roche Breakthrough Therapy Designation for its investigational oral medicine balovaptan (previously known as RG7314), a vasopressin 1a (V1a) receptor antagonist for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for balovaptan is primarily based on efficacy findings in the VANILLA (Vasopressin ANtagonist to Improve sociaL communication in Autism) study, a Phase II trial of balovaptan in adults with ASD. Trial results were first presented at the International Congress for Autism Research (IMFAR) in May 2017. Treatment effects were observed on the Vineland-II (secondary endpoint) and also demonstrated that balovaptan was safe and well tolerated by the subjects in the study. The Vineland-II is a scale that measures socialization, communication and daily living skills. This data was presented to the FDA and is part of the basis of the Breakthrough Designation.  (more…)