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Autism research and other musings

Paul Whiteley
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  • October 16, 2012
  • 11:31 AM

"We of the craft are all crazy"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I hope that you don't think I am making light of mental illness with the title of this post which originally comes from Lord Byron but I got from this article by Hankir* on bipolar disorder and poetic genius. The reason for it stems from this paper by Simon Kyaga and colleagues* which, in quite a large population group, asked the eternal question about whether those in the creative professions might more likely to be treated for mental illness compared with the general population......... Read more »

Kyaga S, Landén M, Boman M, Hultman CM, Långström N, & Lichtenstein P. (2012) Mental illness, suicide and creativity: 40-Year prospective total population study. Journal of psychiatric research. PMID: 23063328  

  • October 15, 2012
  • 04:07 PM

Autism: the sum of its SNPs?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I chanced upon a new piece of research published by Lambertus Klei and colleagues* (open-access) on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and autism, and how lots of little mutations might additively contribute to increasing autism risk.Calculate this @ Wikipedia OK, stop.. hammertime.. a few descriptions and details are needed first as well as a caveat about my amateur status when it comes to all things genetics.SNPs and mutations. A short description is included here but basica........ Read more »

Klei, L., Sanders, S., Murtha, M., Hus, V., Lowe, J., Willsey, A., Moreno-De-Luca, D., Yu, T., Fombonne, E., Geschwind, D.... (2012) Common genetic variants, acting additively, are a major source of risk for autism. Molecular Autism, 3(1), 9. DOI: 10.1186/2040-2392-3-9  

  • October 14, 2012
  • 06:36 AM

Neurotensin and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I've been trying to catch up with the various articles published this summer (2012) whilst I was on vacation which might be of interest to this blog. There is quite a list of papers which I will hopefully try and get through but for now I've settled on this paper by Angelidou and colleagues* (open-access) on the topic of autism, babies, brains and inflammation.Corbita @ Wikipedia I'll state from the outset that the Angelidou paper is a talky-talky review paper and as per quite a few review ........ Read more »

Angelidou A, Asadi S, Alysandratos KD, Karagkouni A, Kourembanas S, & Theoharides TC. (2012) Perinatal stress, brain inflammation and risk of autism-Review and proposal. BMC pediatrics, 12(1), 89. PMID: 22747567  

  • October 12, 2012
  • 03:02 AM

A systems biology approach to autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I might have mentioned it before but quite a bit of my interest on this blog and its sibling blogs outside of the behemoth that is autism research is dedicated to several of the -omics disciplines. Omics? What on earth is he talking about? Well, think genomics (the study of the genome) and extend it to other areas of investigation such as:Lots of leads? @ Wikipedia the microbiome (microbiomics - the study of bacteria, or more specifically, the bacteria that inhabit us), the epigen........ Read more »

Randolph-Gips MM, & Srinivasan P. (2012) Modeling autism: a systems biology approach. Journal of clinical bioinformatics, 2(1), 17. PMID: 23043674  

  • October 10, 2012
  • 11:43 AM

I am not condoning violence...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Mr Bruce Lee @ Wikipedia Name calling, spreading rumours, excluding from social groups, hitting, kicking and taking belongings. Bullying (definition courtesy of the UK National Autistic Society) covers quite a lot of ground.I don't actually know if I had a bully or not at school. I mean, there was this one kid at school who always seemed to have it in for me until that is, one day I snapped (yes, we English are not all watercress sandwiches and afternoon tea) after which the kid in question........ Read more »

  • October 8, 2012
  • 05:31 PM

Wandering and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

It is every parent's nightmare. You take your eye of your child for 10 seconds and they're off. "But they were there a second ago" is the thought running through your mind as the eyes dart randomly about trying to spot the coat, T-shirt or dress, as just about every worse case scenario runs through your mind.That scene (which I have been through myself on more than one occasion) demonstrates one of the more heart-pounding moments of raising young children. Suffice to say that 99.99% of the time,........ Read more »

Connie Anderson, J. Kiely Law, Amy Daniels, Catherine Rice, David S. Mandell, Louis Hagopian, & Paul A. Law. (2012) Occurrence and family impact of elopement in children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. info:/10.1542/peds.2012-0762

  • October 8, 2012
  • 10:02 AM

Vitamin D deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Vitamin D3 @ Wikipedia I have no hesitation in admitting to being more than a little bit "obsessive" about my data capture and the volumes of lovely, yummy science-y research alerts it produces. Indeed quite a bit of said research ends up as fodder for this and its sister blogs but most in the Twitter onslaught which my poor followers have to endure. Yes, I am probably addicted to information (but better this than other vices).One of my alerts is based on the various collected works be........ Read more »

Berkovitz S, Ambler G, Jenkins M, & Thurgood S. (2009) Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in chronic fatigue syndrome: a retrospective survey. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 79(4), 250-4. PMID: 20209476  

  • October 5, 2012
  • 09:29 AM

Teeth, dentists and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In this post I want to cover some of the collected research looking at teeth, oral hygiene and dentists in relation to autism spectrum conditions in light of this paper by Yi-Chia Wang and colleagues* and the various indications for the use of dental anesthesia indicating paediatric autism.I have, in passing, mentioned teeth and autism in previous posts; most notably in this post on self-injurious behaviour (SIB) and the potentially wide variety of reasons to account for instances of SIB in........ Read more »

Wang YC, Lin IH, Huang CH, & Fan SZ. (2012) Dental anesthesia for patients with special needs. Acta anaesthesiologica Taiwanica : official journal of the Taiwan Society of Anesthesiologists, 50(3), 122-5. PMID: 23026171  

  • October 3, 2012
  • 07:02 AM

When the autism and schizophrenia spectrums collide

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Spectrum is Green @ Wikipedia Spectrum. The name conjures up white light separating out through a prism, the multi-coloured rainbow, and even that wonderful 8-bit computer made by Sir Clive Sinclair (yes, I had one of those you Commodore people).When it comes to autism and schizophrenia, the concept of a spectrum invokes similar ideas of different variations or colours on a theme, separate but linked, patterns of symptoms which stem from a single source but diffuse outwards with fuzzy ........ Read more »

  • October 2, 2012
  • 06:45 AM

Epidermal Growth Factor and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Stanley Cohen @ NIHI'm sure that regular readers of this blog are getting pretty used to (replace with 'sick and tired of') me talking about cytokines in relation to autism and other research areas.Cytokines are those little chemical messengers which are able to stimulate both arms of the immune system (innate and adaptive) having various effects for example, in mediating inflammation. Yes sirree, these little critters perform some pretty critical tasks related to our health and wellbeing.Althou........ Read more »

  • September 30, 2012
  • 04:49 AM

Pets win (prosocial) prizes?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Miss Ellie Dog @WikipediaPets have never really been a great part of my childhood it has to be said. Aside from a cat allergy which sort of ruled out any would-be Top Cat staying at ours, the family home just wasn't graced with enough space to accommodate other animal companions.I did have a goldfish called George for a short period of time; that is until he/she(?) passed away and went to the great WC in the sky. Sad memories indeed.This lack of animal contact during my childhood is probably why........ Read more »

Grandgeorge M, Tordjman S, Lazartigues A, Lemonnier E, Deleau M, & Hausberger M. (2012) Does pet arrival trigger prosocial behaviors in individuals with autism?. PloS one, 7(8). PMID: 22870246  

  • September 28, 2012
  • 05:23 PM

Pretend play and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A lightsaber in production @ WikipediaI'm leaving the heavy biochemistry of late behind in this post with a link to an interesting paper recently posted on Twitter by Prof. Graham Davey (Twitter: @GrahamCLDavey) reviewing the current evidence on the impact of pretend play on child development*.To quote: "...existing evidence does not support strong causal claims about the unique importance of pretend play for development".Whoa there... pretend play over just play might not be such a vital compon........ Read more »

Lillard AS, Lerner MD, Hopkins EJ, Dore RA, Smith ED, & Palmquist CM. (2012) The Impact of Pretend Play on Children's Development: A Review of the Evidence. Psychological bulletin. PMID: 22905949  

  • September 27, 2012
  • 06:05 AM

Endocannabinoids and fragile X syndrome

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), one of the known causes of autism or rather autistic behaviours, has been receiving quite a lot of research and media attention lately. Arbaclofen (STX209) with FXS in mind was the topic of the most recent post (see here); now we have the article by Kwang-Mook Jung and colleagues* (open-access) on endocannabinoid signalling. There may be quite a few similarities between this latest endocannabinoid research and the growing interest in glutamate and its receptor........ Read more »

Kwang-Mook Jung, Marja Sepers, Christopher M. Henstridge, Olivier Lassalle, Daniela Neuhofer, Henry Martin, Melanie Ginger, Andreas Frick, Nicholas V. DiPatrizio, Ken Mackie.... (2012) Uncoupling of the endocannabinoid signalling complex in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2045  

  • September 26, 2012
  • 07:07 AM

Glycine as a sleep aid?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Sleeping beauty @ Paul WhiteleyWhen it comes to sleep and autism, or more specifically suggestions on how to improve sleeping patterns and sleep duration in cases of childhood autism, one compound crops up time and time again: melatonin.I've talked about melatonin quite a bit on this blog; running through the current evidence for effect (here) and also speculatively discussing some of the ways and means that melatonin is made (here) and where the various findings on alterations in levels of the ........ Read more »

  • September 24, 2012
  • 05:33 PM

Antibiotic exposure and inflammatory bowel disease

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

MRSA @ CDC #7820I mentioned in a previous post how some reading on the gut microbiome is taking up some of my time recently. I've been quite lucky in writing some of the literature for that particular project now because papers seem to be cropping up left, right and centre making the whole task a little less taxing.So it was recently when this paper by Kronman and colleagues* was published in the journal Pediatrics, and their assertion of a possible link between childhood antianaerobic anti........ Read more »

Matthew P. Kronman, Theoklis E. Zaoutis, Kevin Haynes, Rui Feng, & Susan E. Coffin. (2012) Antibiotic exposure and IBD development among children: a population-based cohort study. Pediatrics. info:/10.1542/peds.2011-3886

  • September 24, 2012
  • 04:57 AM

Micronutrients for stress and anxiety after earthquake

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Lycosthène @ WikipediaThe junction between stress, anxiety and environment is of particular interest to this blog. I don't pretend to be an expert on the various mechanisms at work in such a relationship but, based on quite a thorough reading of some of the autism research literature in this area, I am beginning to understand how anxiety, chronic anxiety in particular, is a debilitating condition and plays a primary role in the reduction in quality of life for many, many people.Moving slightly ........ Read more »

  • September 22, 2012
  • 03:42 PM

No clinically meaningful differences: gut bacteria and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whose stool? @WikipediaI've been in heavy gut microbiome reading mode these past few days as a result of helping to write some overview material on the topic (and various other -omics) for some collaborations. Autism spectrum disorders have not been a specific focus for most of the work, but I've been drawing heavily on the collected research so far as per the Lipkin Sutterella findings and the Aussie Akkermansia muciniphila observations.It was with great interest therefore that I read the abstr........ Read more »

  • September 20, 2012
  • 03:31 PM


by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I assume quite a few people have already read the various reports about STX209* (most definitely not to be confused with ED-209) otherwise known as arbaclofen with Fragile X syndrome in mind. Hailed as 'The First Drug that Could Help Social Withdrawal in Autism' according to one news source, the headlines are based on the results of this study by Elizabeth Berry-Kravis and colleagues** complemented by this study by Henderson and colleagues*** published on the same day in the same ........ Read more »

Elizabeth M. Berry-Kravis, David Hessl, Barbara Rathmell, Peter Zarevics, Maryann Cherubini, Karen Walton-Bowen, Yi Mu, Danh V. Nguyen, Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, Paul P. Wang.... (2012) Effects of STX209 (Arbaclofen) on neurobehavioral function in children and adults with Fragile X Syndrome: a randomized, controlled, phase 2 trial. Science Translational Medicine. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004214  

  • September 19, 2012
  • 05:36 PM

Lenalidomide and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Lenalidomide @ WikipediaOf the thousands of medicines which have been or are currently in use, a few really enter the mainstream public consciousness for a variety of different reasons.That little blue pill which now graces many a man's medicine cabinet worldwide is probably the best example, as any email spam folder can readily confirm.One drug, suggested to treat morning sickness during pregnancy in the late 1950s, is however synonymous with the darker side of pharmaceutics; illustrative ........ Read more »

  • September 18, 2012
  • 09:17 AM

XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome: the results are in...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Drummer boy @ WikipediaDrum roll please maestro.It's been on the horizon for quite a while. The speculation about what will be found, the teaser announcements pinpointing Tuesday 18th September 2012 as the big day, the excitement was building.And finally here it is.The big multi-centre study initiated by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases headed by the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health to once-and........ Read more »

Harvey J. Alter, Judy A. Mikovits, William M. Switzer, Francis W. Ruscetti, Shyh-Ching Lo, Nancy Klimas, Anthony L. Komaroff, Jose G. Montoya, Lucinda Bateman, Susan Levine.... (2012) A Multicenter Blinded Analysis Indicates No Association between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and either Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus or Polytropic Murine Leukemia Virus. mBio. info:/10.1128/​mBio.00266-12

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