NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (GenomeWeb News) - The Children's Hospital of Boston has launched a one to two-year study to attempt to pin down the genetic and biochemical causes of autism.
Researchers at the Children's Hospital plan to enroll 100 to 150 children aged two years and older, along with their parents and affected siblings, into the study. In addition, 150 unaffected children will be enrolled to serve as controls.
In the first part of the study, detailed behavioral evaluations will be made of the children and their families. Researchers led by Janice Ware and Leonard Rappaport will assess the subjects for autistic spectrum disorders and carefully classify them according to rigorous clinical research criteria with the goal of developing behavioral profiles that can be correlated with genetic data.
In the second part of the study, researchers led by Ingrid Holm and Louis Kunkel will study DNA samples and perform association and linkage studies to look for genetic differences that are shared within families and differences that may accompany clinical manifestations of autistic spectrum disorders.
In addition, a microarray study of RNA from white blood cells will be performed to examine differences in gene expression among autistic children, their parents and matched control subjects. Researchers will examine 60,000 genes simultaneously and seek to find patterns, or genetic "signatures", that mark the different autistic spectrum disorders.