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Berg Pharma Companies Present Groundbreaking Approach to Understanding Autism and Identify Novel Biomarkers That May be Crucial in Diagnosis

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Berg Biosystems and Berg Diagnostics, members of the Berg Pharma group of companies based in Boston, MA presented "Novel Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Biomarker Discovery Using the Berg Interrogative Biology® Discovery Platform" at US-HUPO meeting in San Francisco, CA. The study was conducted by assessing tissues from families with autistic children, and in some cases where more than 1 child was afflicted by the disorder. The presentations are by Min Du, Director of Omics at Berg Diagnostics and Berg Biosystems CNS Diseases program leader, Paula P. Perez who commented, "The disorder is currently diagnosed by behavioral observation and to date no associated biomarkers have been identified and clinically validated."

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Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder with sub-groups of serious and enigmatic neuro-behavioral disorders. Autism is now considered epidemic, affecting one in 110 children in the United States today with a 4:1 male-female ratio of incidence.  "Given the nature of this disease spectrum, it is important that an understanding in the fundamental biological networks unique to autistic phenotypes are captured before any real biomarkers or therapeutics can be realized," said Niven R. Narain, President & CTO of Berg Pharma.

"These highly innovative approaches to exploring the underlying biological abnormalities of autism are revealing new genes and biochemical pathways possibly linked to the disorder," said Eric Nestler, Nash Professor and Chairman, Department of Neuroscience and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, "The work presented herein by the Berg research teams is an important start that may lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments."

The Berg team took a bold, purely agnostic approach where output of data driven biological modeling was subjected to an artificial intelligence based bioinformatic module to assess the differences between disease and normal samples.  Most notably, more concentration was given to proteomic, metabolomic, and lipidomic data rather than genomics. The 3 key biomarkers identified as key hubs in the resulting network biology nodes were SPTAN1, CORO1A, and GLUD1.  Stephanie Peabody, Neuropsychologist and Lead Faculty, Harvard University's Mind, Brain, Health, and Education Course, stated, "The identification of biomarkers for autism and similar conditions would form the basis for a paradigm shift in the way we diagnose and likely treat these disorders. The Berg group has taken a first and most impressive, bold step in this journey."

Moreover, associated protein markers that drive the biology of these 3 key proteins also may be subject of an eventual panel diagnostic kit that may be instrumental in diagnoses.  Berg plans to vehemently take next steps of analyzing more families to validate these markers and develop a test kit for early detection. "We look forward to further validation of these novel findings in an effort to support more definitive diagnoses and patient stratification in autism," said Rangaprasad Sarangarajan, Sr. VP and CSO of Berg Pharma.

"As a father of an autistic child, the sad fact that none of the wide range of autism biomarkers proposed has been validated for clinical use indicates the dire need of a robust biomarker discovery platform like the Berg approach," said Shen Luan, Chief Operating Officer, Berg Diagnostics.

About Berg Biosystems LLC

Berg Biosystems is a Boston, Massachusetts based company that employs a novel approach to systems biology and utilizes systems engineering and bioinformatics modules to cross-validate biological output. The Berg Interrogative Biology® Drug Discovery Platform allows for rapid and precise identification of therapeutic and biomarker candidates for drug discovery and development. The company uses network biology templates to mine disease pathophysiology.

About Berg Diagnostics LLC

Berg Diagnostics is a Boston-based molecular diagnostics company that offers high-throughput omics-based molecular profiling, biomarker validation, and regulated bioanalysis to accelerate development of molecular therapeutics and diagnostics. Armed with the state-of-the-art instrumentation platforms, the company serves to catalyze project end-points in therapeutic and biomarker development.

SOURCE Berg Pharma
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