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Biomarkers identified in ASD children
Tuesday, 05 October 2010

Researchers at Imperial College London analysed urine samples from children with ASD, non-autistic siblings and age-matched 'controls' and found increased levels of certain gut bacterial metabolites in the ASD group.  These results suggest that these metabolites could exert some kind of clinical effect in autistic individuals.

Differences in gut micro flora have been suggested as part of the problem with previous studies reporting high levels of Clostridia spp in children with autism.

Source: Yap et al, 2010 ' Urinary metabolic phenotyping differentiates children with autism from their unaffected siblings and age-matched controls'  Journal of Proteome Research 9 p2996 - 3004

Posted: October 2010 

Oxytocin may improve social behaviour in ASD
Friday, 13 August 2010

Oxytocin is the hormone involved in labour and lactation ( breastfeeding).  It plays a crucial role in the bonding process bewteen mother and baby and as such is thought to have a role in social and emotional behaviour.  Levels of this hormone have been found to be reduced in autistic subjects.

A team of reserachers at the Centre de Neuroscience Cognitive in France, took a group of individuals with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome and measured their social behaviour ( ball tossing game and looking at photos of faces ) before and after taking oxytocin via inhalation.  They found that patients responded more strongly to others and exhibited more approriate social behaviour after receiving the oxytocin, suggesting a possible therapeutic strategy.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences February 2010 www.pnas.org e-publication

Posted: August 2010 


Mitochondrial Dysfunction in ASD
Friday, 13 August 2010

Researchers have found more evidence that there is some kind of problem with mitochondria ( the power plants of cells ) in individuals with autism.  Plasma samples of children with autism, non-autistic siblings and controls ( no family history of ASD) were analysed and found to show' universal and unambiguous alterations in lipid metabolism' as well as reduced levels of glutathione, methionine and cysteine.

Lab tests on normal liver, neuronal and astrocyte ( cells that attach neurones to blood vessels ) cells showed that when exposed to high levels of glutamate ( a biochemical that excites nerve cells ) there was a decrease in levels of glutathione, methionine and cysteine similar to the abnormalities seen with the autistic subjects.

Source: 'Novel plasma phospholipid biomarkers of autism: mitochondrial dysfunction as a putative causative mechanism'  Prostaglandins Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids October 2009 81(4) P253-264 

Posted: August 2010 

Conference on Diet & ASD-Parents Welcome
Monday, 14 June 2010

The newly launched ESPA ( Eduaction and Services for People with Autism ) is running a conference on 'Diet Intervention in Autism Spectrum Conditions' on Wednesday 6th October in Sunderland and parents are welcome to attend.


Experts on dietary interventions, including my colleague from the Dietitians in Autism 'group' David Rex, will be speaking and it promises to be a particularly useful event.


Please go to www.espa-research.org.uk for more details and to download the flyer and booking form.


 Posted: 14th June 2010

Services for People with Autism
Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Autism Research Unit has re-launched as ESPA - Education and Services for People with Autism.  ESPA Research is committed to continuing with research into autism alongside the University of Sunderland.  For more information , please go to their website www.espa-research.org.uk.

 Posted: January 2010

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