In 2012 Dr. Brett Abrahams set up a laboratory for autism research in the Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine/Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion at the Albert Einstein College of Medecine. Based within the division of translational genetics, within the department of genetics, he studies the genetic factors that shape human brain development with a particular focus on autism and related disorders. He also has an appointment in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience.
The Abrahams lab works to understand the “whys” and “hows” in the Autism Spectrum Disorders and to use these insights to achieve better patient outcomes. Dr. Abrahams has identified DNA variants that increase risk for disease and discovered how some of these impact brain structure and function. Ongoing work is poised to take these insights back to the clinic and improve quality of life for patients and families.
All of the work that they accomplish begins and ends in the clinic. The Abrahams team is always actively recruiting patients (and family members) to participate in genetic studies. If you are interested in being part of their study, you can contact them directly for more information.
Widely sought by instititutions nationwide, he chose to come to Einstein and now he is choosing to speak at ICare4Autism’s upcoming August Conference Autism: A Global Perspective. This is the second time that we have invited Dr. Abrahams to speak after the rave reviews of his last speaking engagement at our Jun 6th conference in 2011.
Dr. Abrahams speaks from a history of personal patient interaction and detailed experiments with a protein called Cntnap2. He writes that, “convergent lines of evidence support involvement of Contactin Associated Protein-Like 2 (CNTNAP2), a Neurexin family member, in the ASDs and related disorders of cognition.” The Abrahams lab explores the biological mechanisms by which mutations in CNTNAP2 may cause disease. They characterized animals in which the murine homolog is deleted.
Cntnap2 KO mice were found to have behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of core deficits observed in patients. Mutant mice were also seen to be hyperactive and show spontaneous epileptic seizures, both primary reactions in autistic patients. Treatment with the FDA approved drug risperidone alleviated a subset of behaviors in mutant mice. Dr. Abrahams will discuss further possible treatments and elaborate on the numerous successes that his team has encountered at Einstein.