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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. August 25, 2009

Welcome to USAAA Weekly News, an email newsletter that addresses a range of topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger's Syndrome.


Special: Science Report

Headlines:
Watching Stem Cells Repair the Human Brain

Blood mercury levels rising among U.S. women

EEG and MRI findings and their relation with intellectual disability in pervasive developmental disorders.

Similar developmental trajectories in autism and Asperger syndrome: from early childhood to adolescence.

Fundamental Movement Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Watching Stem Cells Repair the Human Brain
TAU researcher shows viability of bone marrow stem cells with unique MRI tracking methods

Tel Aviv University

drcohenThere is no known cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. But new hope, in the form of stem cells created from the patient's own bone marrow, can be found — and literally seen — in laboratories at Tel Aviv University.

Dr. Yoram Cohen of TAU's School of Chemistry has recently proven the viability of these innovative stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, using in-vivo MRI. Dr. Cohen has been able to track their progress within the brain, and initial studies indicate they can identify unhealthy or damaged tissues, migrate to them, and potentially repair or halt cell degeneration. His findings have been reported in the journal Stem Cells.

"...it was possible to watch the stem cells migrating towards the diseased area of the brain.

"By monitoring the motion of these cells, you get information about how viable they are, and how they can benefit the tissue," he explains. "We have been able to prove that these stem cells travel within the brain, and only travel where they are needed. They read the chemical signalling of the tissue, which indicate areas of stress. And then they go and try to repair the situation."

brainTo test the capabilities of this innovative new stem cells, Dr. Cohen created a study to track the activity of the live cells within the brain using the in-vivo MRI at the Strauss Centre for Computational Neuro-Imaging. Watching the live, active cells has been central to establishing their viability as a therapy for neurodegenerative disease.

Click here for entire article on Watching Stem Cells Repair the Human Brain.


 

Blood mercury levels rising among U.S. women

mercuryKTVN Reno (HealthDay News) -- A study involving more than 6,000 American women suggests that blood levels of mercury are accumulating over time, with a big rise noted over the past decade.

Using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a researcher from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that while inorganic mercury was detected in the blood of 2 percent of women aged 18 to 49 in the 1999-2000 NHANES survey, that level rose to 30 percent of women by 2005-2006.

"My study found compelling evidence that inorganic mercury deposition within the human body is a cumulative process, increasing with age and overall in the population over time," study author and neuroscience researcher Dan R. Laks said in an UCLA news release. "My findings also suggest a rise in risks for disease associated with mercury over time."

The findings come on the heels of a widely publicized report, released last week by the U.S. Geological Survey, which found that 25 percent of fish sampled from U.S. rivers and streams have unsafe levels of mercury.

Click here for entire article on Blood mercury levels rising among U.S. women



EEG and MRI findings and their relation with intellectual disability in pervasive developmental disorders.

Unal O, Ozcan O, Oner O, Akcakin M, Aysev A, Deda G.

Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Ankara University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey, unalozlem@gmail.com.

eegBACKGROUND: The diagnostic category pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) refer to a group of five disorders: autism, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). EEG abnormalities and seizures are considered much frequent in autistic subjects with comorbid intellectual disability (ID). In this study, we aimed to evaluate the EEG and MRI findings and their relation with ID in pervasive developmental disorder.

METHODS: A retrospective, cross-sectional and non-experimental study was performed. Subjects included 81 patients diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS according to the DSM-IV criteria. The age range of the patients was 2-15 years (mean 6.6 years, SD 3.0). Among them, 21 (25.9%) were girls and 60 boys (74.1%).

"EEG results indicate that temporal cortex may play a significant role in pervasive developmental disorders.

RESULTS: Patients with severe ID had a higher rate of EEG abnormalities (P=0.03) than patients without ID as well as patients with mild or moderate ID. The association remained significant after the structural MRI abnormalities were controlled (P=0.04). The severity of ID was not associated with abnormal MRI. The most frequent EEG and MRI abnormalities were active epileptic anomaly/paroxysmal abnormality and cerebral atrophy/periventricular leukomalacia, respectively. Almost a third of the EEG abnormalities were associated with temporal cortex and adjacent cortical structures.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with previous studies, almost a fourth of the patients in this relatively large sample of patients with pervasive developmental disorders had EEG and/or MRI abnormalities. EEG results indicate that temporal cortex may play a significant role in pervasive developmental disorders.

Click here for entire article on EEG and MRI findings and their relation with intellectual disability in pervasive developmental disorders.


 

Similar developmental trajectories in autism and Asperger syndrome: from early childhood to adolescence.

Szatmari P, Bryson S, Duku E, Vaccarella L, Zwaigenbaum L, Bennett T, Boyle MH.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Canada.

Objective: The objective of this study was to chart the developmental trajectories of high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from early childhood to adolescence using the presence and absence of structural language impairment (StrLI) as a way of differentiating autism from Asperger syndrome (AS). Method: Sixty-four high-functioning children with ASD were ascertained at 4-6 years of age from several different regional diagnostic and treatment centers. At 6-8 years of age, the ADI-R and the Test of Oral Language Development were used to define an autism group (those with StrLI at 6-8 years of age) and an AS group (those without StrLI). Growth curve analysis was then used to chart the developmental trajectories of these children on measures of autistic symptoms, and adaptive skills in communication, daily living and socialization.

"Distinguishing between autism and Asperger syndrome based on the presence or absence of structural language impairment (StrLI) appears to be a clinically useful way of classifying ASD sub-types.

Results: Differentiating the ASD group in terms of the presence/absence of StrLI provided a better explanation of the variation in growth curves than not differentiating high-functioning ASD children. The two groups had similar developmental trajectories but the group without StrLI (the AS group) was functioning better and had fewer autistic symptoms than the group with StrLI (the autism group) on all measures across time. The differences in outcome could not be explained by non-verbal IQ or change in early language skills. Conclusion: Distinguishing between autism and Asperger syndrome based on the presence or absence of StrLI appears to be a clinically useful way of classifying ASD sub-types.

PMID: 19686332 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Click here for entire article on Similar developmental trajectories in autism and Asperger syndrome: from early childhood to adolescence.



Fundamental Movement Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Staples KL, Reid G.

Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, kerri.staples@uregina.ca.

kinesiologyDelays and deficits may both contribute to atypical development of movement skills by children with ASD. Fundamental movement skills of 25 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (ages 9-12 years) were compared to three typically developing groups using the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD-2). The group matched on chronological age performed significantly better on the TGMD-2.

"...the movement skills of children with ASD are more impaired than would be expected given their cognitive level.

Another comparison group matched on movement skill demonstrated children with ASD perform similarly to children approximately half their age. Comparisons to a third group matched on mental age equivalence revealed the movement skills of children with ASD are more impaired than would be expected given their cognitive level. Collectively, these results suggest the movement skills of children with ASD reflect deficits in addition to delays.

Click here for entire article on Fundamental Movement Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorders.



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