Sunday, December 14, 2014

The researchers are getting closer

Brain study shows inflammation is a marker of autism

There are many different ways of getting autism, but we found that they all have the same downstream effect," says Prof. Dan Arking regarding his research team's finding that brains affected by autism share a pattern of inflammation as a result of increased immune responses.
Brain image showing differences
In the latest study, researchers found the brains of people with autism have inflammation response genes that are perpetually switched on.
Image credit: Arthur Toga, UCLA via NIGMS
Prof. Arking and his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD - along with researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham - publish their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interactions and communicative development, and is characterized by restrictive interests and repetitive behaviors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1 in 68 children in the US have ASD.
In most cases, the cause of the disease is unknown, and the researchers note that despite a strong genetic component, progression on identifying genes implicated in the disease has been slow, leading to a "limited understanding of the molecular basis of autism."
Prof. Arking observed that studies into autism and gene expression - whether and how much genes are used - have involved little data and were unable to draw useful results. This is because gene expression testing must be performed on the specific tissue itself, and in this case, that would be the brain, which can only be acquired through an more