Friday, April 23, 2010

Autism Reality News Beat: Autism Speaks Guest Comment by Professor Valerie Hu

In  GWU Medical Center Study Suggests Autism May Be Treatable  I commented on the press release highlighting the work of Professor Valerie Hu and her colleagues at George Washington University, who claim to have found a way to identify autism disorder using blood. Their study also discovered that drugs that affect the methylation state of genes, drugs currently used in fighting cancer,  might also reverse specific autism effects.  This autism news provides some badly needed good news about possible autism treatments.  
In Beyond genetics: What the new fields of functional genomics and epigenetics are revealing about autism  Autism Speaks offers a guest post from Professor Valerie Hu, a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The George Washington University Medical Center  as well as a mother of a son with ASD.  The comment also offers links to two studies by Professor Hu and her colleagues at GWU. 

Professor Hu describes the functional genomics approach to studying genes employed by the GWU team.  This approach focuses on gene expression explained as the activities of the genes.   The team has in fact published two studies which together, using the functional genomics approach "illustrate two different “epigenetic” mechanisms controlling gene activity in autism that lie beyond genetic mutations".  The studies suggest that some of the symptoms of autism may be reversible by reversing or controlling gene activities.

The Autism Tissue Program of Autism Speaks provided brain tissues used in one of the studies.  I highlight this point here because of the hostility directed at Autism Speaks from anti-cure interest groups like ASAN.  Studies like those by Professor Hu and George Washington University may actually help autistic persons like my son.  Autism Speaks deserves recognition for its contribution to such studies and I thank them for their contribution.

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