iCARE4autism announces key speaker Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for their 2010 International Autism Conference in Jerusalem, Israel. The conference, titled “Autism: A Global Problem,” will be held the week of February 17 to 19 at the ICC.
Hakonarson and his team of researchers have discovered variations in the genetic make up of those with autism. Their studies indicate 65 percent of their participants with autism had a genetic variation in the region of the genome—a complex system of DNA coding—that controls cell-adhesion molecules. There findings were published in the journal Nature, and compared the genomes of thousands of individuals with autism.
Hakonarson, the leader of the study said, “If we could remove this variant from the population . . . as much as 15 % of autism would disappear.” A second study by researchers suggested an excess of the protein ubiquitin, which is involved in cell-adhesion molecules, could also be linked to autism. Recent technological advances have made studying the complex human genome possible. Those in the autism community are hoping that through this new research safe and effective treatments can be developed for those with autism.
Autism effects 1 in 150 people and diagnosed cases of the disorder are increasing rapidly for several proposed reasons, including a heightened awareness, environmental factors, genetic findings or a combination of several converging factors.
Hakonarson will be presenting his findings at iCARE4autism’s international conference. Among the presenters is the conference’s Genetics Chair Eli Hatchwell, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Genomics Core Facility and Associate Professor in Pathology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, NY as well as Education Chair Brian A. Iwata, Ph.D. Professor, Psychology Department at University of Florida.