Building on the prior studies from Boston and Cincinnati, the TACERN study will investigate whether DTI can be used a marker to identify TSC patients at highest risk for autism during early development, providing a window for intervention in future trials.
"The new study is unique in that we are focused on a specific disorder with high rates of autism for which the molecular cause is already known and molecular-targeted treatments are already available," says Darcy Krueger, MD, PhD, a pediatric neurologist and director of research in the division of Neurology at Cincinnati Children's. "Our study will open new avenues of research and treatment for autism, not only in TSC but in other causes as well."
The DTI studies will be led by Simon Warfield, PhD, of the Computational Research Laboratory at Boston Children's Hospital. Brain wiring will also be analyzed with EEG techniques, and the infants will undergo frequent neuropsychological assessments from 3 months to 3 years of age, when a clinical diagnosis of autism can be made.
"Our ultimate goal is to identify which tuberous sclerosis patients are at high risk for autism so we can intervene early," says Sahin. "This may have implications for autism in patients without tuberous sclerosis as well."
The grant was one of nine awarded by the National Institutes of Health for its Autism Centers of Excellence research program. The NIH created the program in 2007 "to launch an intense and coordinated research program into the causes of autism spectrum disorders and to find new treatments." The nine grants totaled more than $100 million.
|Contact: Jim Feuer|
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center