Autism Reality

Autism Speaks 400

Autism Speaks continues its outstanding efforts to raise autism awareness and funds for autism research with its latest effort the Autism Speaks 400. This is another terrific way to tell the world about autism.


NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Race at Dover International Speedway to be named the “Autism Speaks 400 Presented by Visa”
DOVER, DE (May 18, 2007) — Dover International Speedway announced today that the June 3, 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race will be named the “Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa.” Autism Speaks is an organization dedicated to increasing understanding and knowledge of autism spectrum disorders; to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism; and to advocating for the needs of affected families.

“Thanks to Visa’s commitment, this event marks the first time a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event entitlement has been dedicated to a not-for-profit organization,” said Mark Rossi, vice president of sales & marketing for Dover Motorsports, Inc. “Millions of fans watching the race on Fox around the country, along with our loyal fan base here at the track in Dover, will be exposed to the ‘Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa’ messaging. The end result will be increased awareness, and additional funds, to assist the many important initiatives of Autism Speaks.”

From now until June 1, Dover International Speedway will donate $5 to Autism Speaks from each ticket purchased with a Visa card for the June 3 “Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa” race. Fans can visit http://www.autismspeaks.org to learn more and donate to this worthwhile cause.

As part of the entitlement, a special one-of-a-kind experience will be auctioned, with all proceeds going directly to Autism Speaks. The prize includes the opportunity to wave the green flag as the honorary starter for the June 3 race; an autographed flag signed by the starting lineup of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race; the chance to be on stage for driver introductions; a ride in the pre-race parade lap for four guests; four tickets to watch the race from a skybox suite; four pit passes; and a guided tour for four of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup garage. To participate in this unique auction and support Autism Speaks, go to
http://www.autismspeaks.org/dover400.

http://www.autismspeaks.org/press/dover_400.php

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May 19, 2007 Posted by | autism awareness, autism disorder, autism speaks, Autism Speaks 400, research | Leave a comment

Funding Critical to Autism Research

In the excitement of the big autism genome breakthrough the Montreal Gazette offers an important reminder that the research behind this breakthrough was made possible by funding. Funding is critical to sustained uninterrupted research. Now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to move ahead with more research and with more funding to ensure that the research continues.

Thank you to Dr. Peter Szatmari and all involved in this collaborative effort. As a Canadian I am very proud of the Canadians who led this research effort and I hope that our federal government shows some heart, and some good sense, and continue to fund autism research.

Funding helped autism discovery

The Gazette

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

News of a breakthrough in understanding the genetics of autism, which was splashed dramatically across the world’s front pages yesterday, provides a precious lesson in the value of research.

The discovery came from a vast sleuthing effort: More than 130 researchers from 50 institutions in eight countries made scans of DNA from 8,000 people in 1,600 families. From all that data, scientists uncovered two new mutations possibly linked to an increased risk of susceptibility to autism, a neurological condition of varying degrees of complexity. The breakthrough should lead, via more accurate diagnostic tests, to earlier, more pertinent therapy.

All those resources were mobilized because of the growing realization that autism is far more widespread than previously thought, touching as many as one child in 165.

Canadians were among the scientists who led the effort. Peter Szatmari, director of the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster Children’s Hospital, is described as setting the groundwork for the international effort that got under way in 2002. Steve Scherer, senior scientist of genetics and genomic biology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, is a project co-leader.

The international research effort is run by the Autism Genome Project, Canada’s part of which is underwritten by a $6.9-million grant from Genome Canada, primary funder in Canada of genomics and proteomics research.

Every Canadian should be proud this country has contributed to this promising research.

Despite some recent successes, Canada’s investment in scientific research has not been everything it could be. In 2005, 40 prominent scientists criticized the Liberal government’s funding policy, which required scientists seeking federal funding to find matching money elsewhere. The scientists argued scientific excellence alone should be considered, because premature emphasis on commercial application could stifle basic research.

Ottawa has since 1999 pumped more than $7 billion into scientific research – enough to keep top scientists in the country. But that funding could come to an abrupt end once $400 million in grants announced in November by Industry Minister Maxime Bernier runs out.

The dangers of this kind of off-and-on-again approach to funding were explained to The Gazette in 2004 by Sean Taylor, project manager for the Montreal Proteomics Network: “You don’t invest all this money in burgeoning fields like genomics and proteomics, and then just drop it,” he said. For Canada to become a research hub, scientists need time and secure funding, Taylor said.

Alberta, at least, seems to understand that. Last week, it announced it will use money from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research to try to attract – and keep – “superstar” medical researchers to the province. What a good investment.

February 20, 2007 Posted by | Autism Genome Project, autism spectrum disorder, funding, govenrment, research, Szatmari | Leave a comment

Canadian Breakthrough Offers Hope on Autism

The Globe and Mail headline says it all. Hope.

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Canadian breakthrough offers hope on autism

Project makes possible DNA test to identify children most likely at risk to condition

From Monday’s Globe and Mail

A massive international effort led by Canadian scientists has homed in on the genes behind autism – a breakthrough that could revolutionize how the mysterious and surprisingly common condition is both detected and treated.

Touting it as the most significant advance in the field in 30 years, researchers say the landmark project has put within reach a DNA test to identify children with autism early enough to counter the condition’s worst effects.

“I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we’re going to be able to prevent autism down the road,” said study leader Peter Szatmari, director of the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton. “The clinical implications of this discovery are unprecedented.”

Doctors currently rely on psychological tests to diagnose autism spectrum disorders in children at age 2 or 3. But a DNA test could identify those affected as babies, or perhaps even before they are born.

The findings, based on the largest autism DNA collection ever assembled, could also allow parents who have children with autism to learn through genetic screening their chances of having another affected child.

“If you know ahead [of time] of your predisposition to autism, you can make an informed decision,” said Marie Jolicoeur, a Burlington, Ont., mother who has two sons with autism disorders and whose family contributed DNA to the project.

Using new genome scanning tools, researchers have found that several different autism-related genes can play a role in different families. This helps to explain why no two children – not even identical twins – have identical symptoms.

The researchers have pinpointed at least five areas of the genome that harbour genes linked to autism susceptibility, including those crucial for brain function. They have also found a genetic mutation tied to the disorder in girls – who are four times less likely than boys to develop autism disorders.

The work has also highlighted how autism can spring from genetic quirks not seen in either parent – suggesting that a genetic glitch has randomly emerged in the sperm or egg cells of the father or mother prior to conception.

Co-author Steve Scherer, senior scientist of genetics and genomic biology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, said, “It may be that 5 to 10 per cent of autism cases are arising from these de novo [new] mutations.”

The research, released yesterday in an advance online publication of the journal Nature Genetics, is the first part of a two-phase study run by the Autism Genome Project. It involves more than 137 researchers from 50 academic institutions in eight countries and the study of nearly 8,000 people from 1,600 families who have at least two members diagnosed with an ASD. ………

http://tinyurl.com/3cjfmy

February 19, 2007 Posted by | autism, autism genome, autism spectrum disorder, research | 3 Comments

Early treatment of autism hinges on genetic discoveries

Much attention has been paid to purported environmental causes of autism. Controversy has raged over both the MMR vaccine itself and the use of thimerosal, a mercury based preservative used in vaccines as a potential cause of autism.

As prominent a figue as Robert Kennedy Jr has pushed the thimerosal theory before the US Congress and the world. There is however precious little scientific support to date for the vaccine/thimerosal theories. Recent environmental theories include Lyme Disease and television as possible causes of autism.

Notwithstanding the focus on potential environmental causes of autism it is heartening to read that research continues on genetic factors. Genetic research is an important element to the early identification and treatment of autism including development of specific treatments for individual autistic persons as discussed in a very readable article by Dr. John Bernard, president of the Children’s Research Institute, published in the Columbus Dispatch:

Identical twins have identical genes, while fraternal twins are genetically similar, but not identical. When identical twins have autism, both are affected about 60 percent of the time, whereas fraternal twins are both affected only about 5 percent of the time.

These findings strongly suggest a genetic basis for many cases of autism.

But current thinking is that autism spectrum disorders do not result from genetic factors alone. It is likely that unknown environmental factors also are involved, perhaps as a result of genetic susceptibility.

It is probable that each of the autism spectrum disorders is associated with a specific genetic abnormality. However, scientists involved in the search for specific genetic abnormalities in autism are challenged by the complex variability of individual cases.

Unless individual children can be accurately and specifically classified within the autism spectrum, the search for underlying genes is clouded. Fortunately, specific genetic abnormalities are now being discovered for some of the rare and distinctive types of autism spectrum disorders.

Discovering specific genetic abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorders might help detect them earlier in life than currently is possible.

Children then could receive customized treatment programs at the earliest possible age, when the prospect for success is best. It is also possible that drug treatments can be designed by researchers to specifically modify the genetic abnormality involved.

http://www.dispatch.com/science/science.php?story=dispatch/2007/01/16/20070116-D5-04.html

January 17, 2007 Posted by | autism, Bernard, causes, environment, genetics, health, Kennedy, Lyme Disease, research, thimerosal, treatment, vaccines | Leave a comment