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Researcher uncovers potential cause, biomarker for autism and proposes study to investigate theory
Date:1/31/2013

logically low levels of IGF while in utero and reduced IGF in their umbilical cord blood at birth would be a next step," said Steinman. Potential IGF-raising therapeutic agents that may be considered, which would all require caution, include Prozac, Copaxone, Increlex, and recombinant human IGF. Steinman also said that as a natural source of IGF, breast milk may also be an important consideration; an increased duration of breastfeeding is associated with a decreased incidence of autism.

The research into this theory could present an opportunity for public-private collaboration between academia and industry. In fact, if corroborated, Steinman's theory could also point to potential risks to pregnant women and women of child-bearing age of drugs able to lower IGF levels, of which there are several Somavert, Sandostatin, Parlodel, and several experimental IGF receptor antagonists.

Additionally, if Steinman's theory is confirmed by the proposed, or any related, studies, a search of gene variations could then be conducted in autistic children. This kind of information might allow genetic risk determinations in the preconception period, similar to other forms of genetic testing and counseling during the family planning stages. Genetic testing and counseling for autism may be especially helpful to couples who start families later in life. Newborn levels of IGF are inversely proportional to parental age, and older mothers and fathers have a higher risk of conceiving children who will later develop symptoms of autism.

In developing his hypothesis and proposed investigation, Steinman examined IGF research to date in the areas of genetics, intrauterine environments, postpartum factors, and nervous system development, as well as a few other related factors. "We believe there's a good chance this theory will be validated, but much work remains. My collaborators and I are excited to have identified this potential connection and hope it leads not only to the discovery
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Contact: Gary Steinman
gary.steinman@touro.edu
646-981-4604
Touro College Of Osteopathic Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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