A recent meeting by The Autism Consortium gave scientists, clinicians, advocates and parents an opportunity to share the latest information on causes of autism and their implications for diagnosis, prognosis and therapies.
The symposium’s scope and attendance doubled this year, with an increase in scientific posters presented from 19 in 2008 to 38 and attendance rising from 200 to 400 over last year.
“The dramatic growth of this year’s symposium strengthens our resolve to bring researchers, clinicians and families together to move the needle on autism research as quickly as possible,” said Deirdre Philips, executive director of the Autism Consortium.
“The Autism Consortium encourages families to become vested partners in the research process, participating in studies whenever they can to provide the broadest possible foundation for new discoveries that will lead to new treatments.”
Laurie Demmer, MD, MA, chief of the division of genetics and metabolism at The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center gave an overview of the genetic changes that have been identified in children with autism. She also discussed a new study demonstrating the utility of clinical genetic testing in the diagnosis and treatment of children with ASDs.
Representative Barbara L’Italien (MA), vice chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, discussed new legislation that, if enacted, will mandate insurance coverage for diagnosis and treatment of ASDs.
Susan Wilczynski, PhD, BCBA, executive director of the National Autism Center, discussed a study evaluating the effectiveness of autism treatments based on research study results published in peer-reviewed journals.
Autism Consortium research last year resulted in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing strong and compelling evidence that a region on chromosome 16 appears to play an important role in susceptibility for autism spectrum disorders.
Scanning genetic data from more than 3,000 individuals, researchers found that a deletion or duplication of a specific section of chromosome 16 (referred to as 16p11.2) accounts for approximately 1 percent of autism cases.
Since this discovery, researchers from eleven labs have begun an exciting collaboration on the investigation of this region of chromosome 16 and the role it plays in autism. Eight scientists working in this area presented an update on their latest findings:
For the first time in 2009, the Symposium included a Family Resource Fair, a forum for support and advocacy organizations to provide information on their programs and services. The Resource Fair was especially well received by the many autism family members and caregivers in attendance.
Source: Autism Consortium