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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

Validation of a diffusion imaging biomarker of autism

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Chance, Steven

Description

Description

The proposed research takes advantage of the resources available at the University of Oxford in the U.K. to validate a new noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarker of autism using postmortem imaging. This has enormous potential for subsequent development as a tool for early detection, diagnosis, monitoring and assessment of individuals with autism. Steven Chance and his colleagues seek to better understand the cause of autism by investigating the neuroanatomical basis of the condition. Accurate diagnosis in life is difficult because the detailed changes in the cerebral cortex cannot be seen in brain imaging of living people. Recent observations found that the vertical cellular circuits, called minicolumns, which constitute the fundamental structural organization throughout the cerebral cortex, are altered in autism1. Disturbed development of the brain's detailed structure forms one of the key theories of the neuropathology of autism. This microscopic columnar architecture correlates with cognitive ability and has been proposed as the neural basis of symptoms, as well as the neural basis of enhanced capacities such as fine touch discrimination. It has also been implicated in the beneficial effects of interventions such as transcranial magnetic stimulation as a way of improving function by increasing the inhibition of over-excitable minicolumns in autism2. Chance and his group aim to develop a noninvasive brain imaging marker of this microscopic structure by proving that it may be detected and quantified in MRI scans of postmortem tissue, with the potential for future application in living people. If validated, such a measure would aid early diagnosis and provide a harmless method to monitor ongoing changes across the lifespan, including changes in response to therapies. The detection of change in primary sensory brain regions holds implications for simple, sensory, diagnostic tests, and could ultimately improve individual care by more effectively targeting therapies. References: 1. Casanova M.F. et al. Neuroscientist 9, 496-507 (2003) PubMed 2. Sokhadze E.M. et al. J. Autism Dev. Disord. 39, 619-634 (2009) PubMed

Funder

Funder

Simons Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

125000

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2014-2016

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 7: What Other Infrastructure and Surveillance Needs Must Be Met?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 7D. Establish and maintain an international network of biobanks for the collection of brain tissue, fibroblasts for pluripotent stem cells, and other tissue or biological material, by acquisition sites that use standardized protocols for phenotyping, collection, and regulated distribution of limited samples by 2011. o This includes support for post-processing of tissue, such as genotyping, RNA expression profiling, and MRI. o Protocols should be put into place to expand the capacities of ongoing large-scale children's studies to collect and store additional biomaterials, including newborn bloodspots, promoting detection of biological signatures. o Support should also be provided to develop an international web-based digital brain atlas that would provide high-resolution 3-D images and quantitative anatomical data from tissue of patients with ASD and disease controls across the lifespan, which could serve as an online resource for quantitative morphological studies, by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $82,700,000 over 5 years.

Project Link

Project Link

Validation of a diffusion imaging biomarker of autism (External web link)

Institution

Institution

University of Oxford

State/Country

State/Country

United Kingdom

Project Number

Project Number

307098

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

Validation of a diffusion imaging biomarker of autism | 60476 | 2014 | 307098

 
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