Nysha Recent News

Genetic cause found for new autism-like disorder

January 25, 2017

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Genetic cause found for new autism-like disorder

An international team of scientists based out of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas has identified variants of the gene EBF3 that cause a developmental disorder similar to autism.


The identification of the gene variants has led to a better understanding of both complex conditions, and to possibly diagnosing other previously undiagnosed patients with similar clinical disorders.


The researchers found new mutations of the gene EBF3 in three patients presenting with a newly described syndrome.


“The patients’ main features include developmental delay, coordination problems, limited facial expressions at an early age and abnormal verbal communication and social behaviors,” said leader researcher Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao, postdoctoral research fellow of pediatric neurology at Baylor.  “This newly described syndrome has many similarities with what we see in autism spectrum disorders, but also important differences.”


The new research recently appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics.


U.S. Dept. of Justice Pushes Law Enforcement on Disability-law Compliance

In one of its last acts under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) issued a wide-ranging memorandum in mid-January to all U.S. courts and law enforcement bodies about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


The ADA, landmark legislation signed into by President George H.W. Bush, requires a vast array of accommodations to be provided to people with disabilities in schools, workplaces, public transportation and public properties.


It also prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities during interactions with the criminal justice system—making the ADA compliance a subject of concern to police, courts, attorneys and more.


“Pursuant to the ADA, state and local government criminal justice entities—including police, courts, prosecutors, public defense attorneys, jails, juvenile justice and corrections agencies— must ensure that people with mental health disabilities or (intellectual and developmental disabilities) are treated equally in the criminal justice system and afford them equal opportunity to benefit from safe, inclusive communities,” the DOJ’s new guidance said.


With the guidance, the Justice Department is outlining those ADA obligations and encouraging law enforcement and other relevant entities to review their policies and procedures.


Specifically, the guidance indicates that the criminal justice system must ensure that communication with individuals with developmental disabilities is effective. 


Working with said population has been a trend in recent years.


A growing number of police departments nationwide now train new officers on how to defuse situations involving people with autism (or other disabilities that involve adverse behaviors). 


Likewise, a number of municipalities, including New York’s Rockland County, maintain a response protocol for police situations involving people with mental illness.  Rockland’s protocol, for example (and like many others), involves first dispatching an unmarked car and a mental-health professional to such scenes.


Other ADA compliance tools, according to the DOJ memo, could include allowing the use of assistive technology or merely employing more simplified language and patience.


Microbe transplant improves symptoms: study

A new study finds that children with autism may benefit from microbe transplants, in which healthy microbes from the gut of a health donor are introduced into people with gastrointestinal disease to rebalance the gut.


In a study of 18 children with autism and moderate to severe gastrointestinal problems, parents and doctors documented measureable positive changes that lasted at least eight weeks after the treatment.


A growing body of research is drawing connections between the bacteria and viruses that inhabit the gut and problems in the brain, and it is possible the two are tied together in an important way in autism.


The study appears in the journal Microbiome.


Study says overdiagnosis behind autism rise

An Australian study echoes what U.S. research has already indicated: the increasing global rates of autism are due to the clinical criteria of the condition expanding—allowing doctors to diagnose more children, as they apparently are, with more mild forms of autism.


The study of over 1,200 kids in Western Australia diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found no evidence of more children being born with autism than in the past.


The number of children diagnosed with autism in Australia has increased 20 times since the 1970s, with its prevalence in the country now believed to be at least one per cent.


The study was published recently in the journal Autism Research.