April 23, 2014 8:05 pm

The search to find a cure for autism

VANCOUVER – The search for the cause of autism, and a cure, has been ongoing for decades.

And even with the advent of genome sequencing, unfortunately, researchers haven’t come up with the magic answer. While they have found some unusual mutations that affect a few patients with autism, they don’t see it in many others, so the search continues.

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At the Child and Family Research Institute in Vancouver, Dr. Anthony Bailey’s team of researchers are now trying to understand more about what’s happening in the brain, so they can make some kind of link between genes and behaviour.

Scientists around the world are also focusing on possible environmental factors playing a role in autism. If you take the example of twins who are affected with autism, there can be a huge difference between them.

“They are suggesting that either there’s differences due to chance because development is a complicated process or the differences might be due to what we call ‘gene environment interactions,” said Bailey. “In other words, there might be something in the environment that by itself is harmless, but if you happen to carry a particular set of genes, the environmental factor might have a negative impact upon you.”

Just last month, a researcher at SFU found a link between a flame retardant and a banned pesticide, and an increase in autistic-like behaviours.

And that comes after an earlier study showing a correlation between air pollution in autism.

There is a lot of work being done in the field of autism right now and according to Bailey, within 10 years the field will look radically different.

Bailey and Dr. Keith McLarren are recruiting a number of people with autism to take part in a research-based study at the Child and Family Research Institute in Vancouver.

They are looking for:

-        Male adolescents/young adults between the ages of 14-30 with autism

-        English as a native language

-        Right-handed

More information can be found at www.cfri.ca

In addition, on May 24, Central City Brewers and Simon Fraser University will hold the 2nd Annual Evening for Autism black-tie fundraising event with live and silent auctions to aid in the funding of a new clinical trial of HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) for children with autism, the first of its kind in Canada.

For more information on Central City Brewers + Distiller’s 2nd Annual Evening for Autism charity fundraiser, please visit www.centralcitybrewing.com/autism.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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