Home > Science > On the Cutting Edge of Treatment and Technology

On the Cutting Edge of Treatment and Technology

Posted by Rob Ring, PhD, vice president of translational research for Autism Speaks

Translational research in autism converts complex scientific discoveries into  real life benefits for those living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Earlier this year, I had the privilege of organizing and moderating a translational research symposium we called “Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Genes to Targets to Treatments” at the New York Academy of Sciences. The symposium was made possible through funding from Autism Speaks. Indeed, sponsorship of meetings like this is an essential part of Autism Speaks’ commitment to advancing innovative autism research.

The New York Academy symposium brought together respected experts working on translational autism research from the proverbial bench to the bedside. The day was filled with stimulating scientific discussion that helped those of us involved in this research to align our research priorities.

In this week’s “Science in the City” podcast from the New York Academy (click the image below to access the podcast), you can listen in as two of the symposium’s speakers offer a behind-the-scenes look at the new technologies and treatments that could redefine how we understand autism. Eric Hollander, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, talks about using oxytocin, a brain chemical that fosters social bonding, as a potentially treatment for aspects of autism. And Timothy Roberts, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, discusses his use of brain imaging to identify early markers of autism—such as a tell-tale delay in how a child responds to voices and other sounds.

For more information about the translational research Autism Speaks funds, please visit our Grant Search portal, where you can learn more about specific studies on technology development, biomedical interventions, and more.

We’d love your feedback. So please leave a comment and respond to our polldaddy question of the day below the podcast link. Thanks.

Click the image to hear the podcast.

  1. July 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Any advancements, development, bio-medical interventions, that help our kids cope and deal is more than welcome! Very interesting. I wouldn’t integrate this into my sons’s treatment until further study is done and it is approved by the FDA of course. I hope for solutions daily!

  2. Greg
    July 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Very nice but my son needs more practical interventions.

  3. Sharon
    July 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks so much for caring! It would be interesting to see how these studies identify whether heredity place a major role in the development of autism in families. My brother is severely autistic. My cousin’s son is severely autistic and my son Tyler is autistic, but not severely. He has been diagnoised with Aspergers Disorder. He is high functioning and is mainstreaming in some of his classes at school. I have started helping Autism Speaks by donating 25% of my earnings through my Jewelry business. Visit my Facebook page for further details and join me help fight this challenging disorder… :D

  4. July 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Kudos!!!! My autistic grandson is so social; way beyond what I might have been!(TJ LOVES PEOPLE) YET: I remain very open to ANYTHING THAT MAY BENEFIT HIM AND OTHERS. ..TJ inspires me on a daily basis!!!

  5. Sarah
    July 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Please focus on treating chronic inflammation in brain caused by an overactive immune system. I think this is what is causing autistic behaviors like head banging or brain fog. I think if researchers target inflammation, it will help our kids function better.

  6. July 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I am not a fan of the oxycotin yet (because I am not sure of its rate of success on children with autism and any adverse reactions), however I am all for brain imagining if it can give a vivid and acurate look at how the brain of autistic children responds to sounds, voices, etc and how this knowledge can help autism research in finding the cause/cure.

  7. July 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Some people with autistic spectrum disorders are severely impaired and really cannot function very much at all. Others are only slightly impaired. Difficulties faced by people with milder autistic spectrum disorders are comparable to those faced by other minorities: intolerance, harassment, isolation. In many cases, the real need is not so much for cure as for education of “neurotypical” people not to be so judgmental.

  8. MARIA
    July 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Many more grants given to concomitant treatment of concomitant medical problems are needed. The research is too much focused on general aspects. Many subgroups of ASD children have GI issues, nutritional defficiencies (vitamins , fatty acids, aminoacids, minerals) biochemical, mitochondrial and metabolic issues, immune and autoimmune conditions, viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic chronic infections and endocrinologic problems. Only the combined testing- and research on proper testing-, the adequate diagnosis of concomitant medical problems together and the combined treatment of these issues together is going to be truly helpful ( including the consideration of interactions and problems related to a systemic approach looking at the individual as a system of systems). Otherwise and being only focused in partial interventions, it is not going to be of practical and real impact. IMO. This was, at least , our experience.
    Some comments.
    1-There is no research on testing on bioaccumulation of toxic elements to properly know about. The role of aminoacids status has not been explored and the impact of protein restriction in ASD subgroups neither in management of toxic and essential elements on time.
    2-There is no research about viruses (herpes and others), bacterial (strep mainly) and fungal IgG l titers in subgroups of autistic children/teens and adults not only as sporadic measurements but also on time (every 6 months for example, especially on protein restriction). and IgA, IgE, IgM and IgG 4 clases on time. No research on parasitic infections in subgroups neither.
    3-There is no research on impact of post strep conditions in ASD and relation to immune dysfunction, in a combined effort to consider ALSO nutritional imbalances and mitochondrial dysfunction.
    4-An integrated approach where the medical problems cited (not only tested and diagnosed in an adequate protocol but also analyzed together and in context- in terms of risks /benefits of interventions looking at the whole amount of medical conditions found and considering what are the priorities looking at the individual) is unfortunately lacking.

  9. Sarah
    July 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Two outstanding researchers on the cutting edge that should be at the autism treatment discussion :

    Dr Mario Capecchi, Nobel prize winning geneticist. Capecchi says that mental illness and immune dysfunction are related. He said to treat mental illness, we should treat the immune system. Capecchi has done fascinating research on mice with OCD. (see link)

    Utah scientist makes breakthrough in mental illness research


    Dr. TC Theoharides, an MD and Tufts University professor of pharmacology who says overactive mast cells release too many inflammatory cytokines in the brain causing toxicity.

    Interview with Dr. Theoharides where he talks about autism treatment


  10. July 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Learn more about technology & autism at KiDA’s 3rd annual Summit on Autism at UCI’s Bren Events Center on September 17, 2011. Experts from MIT and Harvard will share about using technology to advance communication, connection, and development in kids with autism. More info at http://www.kida.com/summit

  11. July 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    I really interested to your “Autism Speaks Official” blog. It is really important. You gave me a lot of information about the health.
    Epithelial Cancer

  12. Don Huber
    July 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    If this does not reach you I’ll contact Mom and Dad. Congratulations on your position in Autism Speaks. I presented this at Casa Colina to the CEO and Dr Margaret Bauman and they would LOVE to affiliate with LA chapter. Dr Bauman is pediatric neurologist at Mass Gen. She runs an Autism clinic in Fairfield Con. called Giant Steps which I guess is close to home for you. Anyway, I am on staff at Casa and hope somehow this arrangement could be mutially beneficial.
    My best, Don Huber

  13. September 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

    HI, I very like your sharing, thank you spend your time to and aesthetic share these. Hope to see you next time the good sharing!!

  1. December 10, 2011 at 3:31 am

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