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Autism Speaks to Fund $5.2 Million in Genetics Studies for Early Biomarker Diagnosis

Begley-parenting-illustrati-vertical reports on $5.2 million in Autism Speaks grant money allocation. Proteomics is defined as, "the study of genetics which refers to all the proteins expressed by a genome; proteomics involves the identification of proteins in the body and the determination of their role in physiological and pathophysiological functions." Genomics is "the study of all of the nucleotide sequences, including structural genes, regulatory sequences, and noncoding DNA segments, in the chromosomes of an organism." Bold markings are the ours, not the article's. Does this point to prenatal testing as the goal? How "early" is early diagnosis?

Autism Speaks Funds New Genomics Programs
April 09, 2010

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Autism advocacy organization Autism Speaks will fund genomics and proteomics studies through a set of new grants announced this week totaling $5.2 million.

Of these grants, nearly $900,000 will fund two three-year studies involving genomics and proteomics, including an effort to discover biomarkers that could be used to diagnose autism spectral disorder earlier, and research into a gene that could be used in development of a better animal model for studying autism-related genetics.

One Autism Speaks grant will give $449,000 to the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge for a project to seeking to identify a serum-based panel of biomarkers for minimally-invasive early diagnosis of ASD and for the potential for distinguishing various subtypes of the condition using proteomic platforms.

Cambridge researcher Sabine Bahn will serve as principal investigator on the grant. Her team has already identified a prototype panel using the Luminex xMAP platform that can distinguish Asperger’s subjects from matched controls in a small clinical cohort.

The team plans to develop this panel further through profiling analyses of additional cohorts that reflect the spectrum of the condition using age and gender-matched controls. The second phase of the project will test the prototype panel using larger cohorts to identify the most robust biomarker patterns for identifying ASD at the earliest possible clinical phase. The availability of these panels is expected to enable increased understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in ASD, earlier diagnosis of affected individuals, early intervention approaches, and identification of potentially novel treatment strategies.

A $450,000 grant to Yong-Hui Jiang of Duke University will fund research on the molecular pathogenesis of ASD. The project will focus on mutations in the SHANK3 gene that have been found in a small but significant number of individuals with ASD.

Jiang’s team will dissect the SHANK3 protein network, assess its synaptic structure and function, and evaluate behavioral changes in an ASD animal model the team already developed.

Results from this study may be used to understand the role of SHANK3 in synaptic function or to produce a valid mouse model to dissect the pathogenesis of ASD using cutting-edge neurobiological and neuroimaging techniques in the future.

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I believe there is a genetic component mainly our kids dont do a good job of getting rid of toxins. But the main CAUSE of the autism epidemic thats simple PEDIATRICIANS!!!! The "well baby" visit what an oxymoron.


Well, Bob, my family has an autism trait or two--but nobody who is actually on the spectrum. My grandchildren are the 5th generation of selective or non-vaccinators...what a coincidence!

Bob Simpson

Honestly I think that the elephant in the room for some is that they are afraid to admit that the genetics in their family has a autism trait or two. I can point to many families and mine too where this is obvious.


Tonight I saw the "Autism Speaks" NASCAR race car doing what they like to do best... going in circles to look for something.

If they thought they could bring in money, they would branch off and create a "Polio Speaks" non-profit organization.

Jennifer Hankinson

Freakin' stupid. 52 million dollars to find something we can't do anything about??? To disprove an environmental cause??? All of a sudden all of these children are developing autism at alarming rates and they are looking at genetics???? Come on people! Most parents will say their baby was born just fine and then they regressed. THIS IS NOT GENETICS. Lets expose the fraud that Autism Speaks really is.


Here's the thing, this *could* be some good news....but do I think it *will* be good? Nope.
Here is why: No matter what the study finds, it will be presented/observed/analyzed to make it FAR from being related to vaccines, if any environmental issues are even 'brought up' we all know, that any result can be spun to look like whatever the author intended to 'find out'...even though 'studies' are not supposed to do that, we all know its true....

However, it could be good as long as WE still keep our voices UP and LOUD. We can take these results and say SEE, we are RIGHT, there ARE KIDS THAT ARE PREDISPOSED to Vaccine injuries! SEE, SEE, SEE!

Now, my ESP is saying that they will just say 'SEE, its GENETICS, and NOTHING could have been done to prevent this, period. There might be something in the environment that may exxagerate the symptoms of Autism, but it can not be prevented, ITS GENETIC"...

And then still, they will continue to say thru the media "I told you so, this has been asked and answered thru SCIENCE, and now all of the other studies are just 'money wasted' becaue we have already PROOVEN thru SCIENCE that Autism IS GENETIC. Plain and simple."

I do not think that parents would be any more likely to NOT speak up and put their children on any other than the reccommended schedule just because these studies might show that there ARE kids that are genetically predisposed....MAINLY because 'the media' and 'the mainstream docs/parents' out there hear one word "genes" and think GENETIC means totally not preventable...and rather than knowing the FULL TRUTH, that its simply a 'genetic suseptability' they will go ahead and vaccinate fully anyway, because to the 'mainstream' there is not a difference in hearing something is genetic vs someone who might be genetically suseptable to it..with an environmental trigger...ya know?

Either way, WE need to keep the voices LOUD and CLEAR, WE need to continue to educate as many people as we can...I wear some sort of Autism/vaccine connection shirt/badge/button/ribbon, anything I can whenever I am out of the house (have to find a way to make something 'dressy' if I ever have to wear anything other than jeans and a tshirt out...LOL!), and trust me it ALWAYS sparks a conversation, and I have YET, in about 3 years of doing so, come across ANYONE who has not at least listened...and even came across a lot who have thanked me and have said their minds have changed and/or are at least willing now to learn more....if all of us did this..could you imagine? anyway..)...WE have to continue to inform and define these studies to all who will listen, and then, maybe more parents who are not directly affected with Autism or other vaccine injuries, maybe then they will become more educated and then KNOW the difference between 'genetic' and 'trigger' and these words...because, until then, 'they' will win, and 'they' will continue to spin this away from vaccines, because as well all know...THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, they are just trying to 'study' it away...

Thanks to AoA and all of the other parent messaging boards like this (no one is quite as good as AoA. ;p ), our voices are getting louder and stronger...lets keep it up parents! Sadly, there will one day be SO many more of us, if nothing changes...personally, i would love to be snotty and just close our 'club' from any new members...for good! LOL! Keep up the great work everyone!

Mom to Ethan, Alex, and Megan


if this money can't go to treatment-focused research or the vax vs non vax study, it could certainly be significantly more helpful to direct these funds to families for uncovered biomedical expenses or for providing ABA in the schools. So parents ideally might get a diagnosis a few months earlier so they can start fighting with schools and insurance companies a few months earlier to get access to quality care? wonderful.
maybe they'll be able to determine if your child's genetics will determine whether they get low functioning autism or just asthma when they have a vaccine injury.


why do they keep reinventing the wheel.. why don't they pick up and build on studies that have already been done (including genetic studies)?

Here's three that come to mind:

UC Davis MIND Institute - Maternal IgG antibodies:

Prevalance Mitochondrial disorders in ASD- a cohort Analyisis:

Brain inflammation in Autism- Pardo:


If we all agree that there is an environmental component, namely vaccines, that trigger our children's Autism, then doesn't it make sense to learn what makes one genetically susceptible? What parent in her right mind, whose newborn turns up with these biomarkers, would submit her child to an aggressive vaccination schedule? This is a step in the right direction.

Look, Autism Speaks is never going to study the vaccination issue, period. They raise far too much money from mainstreams sources to be able to do that. Yet, their susceptibilty research helps indirectly. Because of them we can now point out to detractors that only 10-15 % of Autism can be attributable to straight genetic cause. How 'bout that! If we vaccine studies then we need to creat another org. to do them, one that is not so dependent on those sources of revenue.

Lynn Johnson

Sorry guys - but nothing will ever change unless we have the science - this is a good study - nothing can really be fixed unless we actually know what has happened - maybe nothing will be found in infants - if we can trace the damage to "post-vaccine" - then we will know -we are only anecdotal evidence - doesn't mean much - and either Wakefield was wrong or his protocol is lousy - it cannot be replicated - replication is basic -


They hope to someday create a master race that can survive well baby visits and mercury posioning.

Amanda Blinn

This isn't going to help my son, and it isn't going to help my great niece's children, either.


Obviously delay tactics. Where are they getting all this money? Who gives them any money- nevermind I already know.


Hitler is alive and doing well at Autism Speaks.


they'll study the furniture, the cracks on the ceiling, the carpet ...they'll do anything to divert attention away from the elephant in the room...


No they are not a waste of time,(just a waste of money) because it is obvious that certain children have a susceptibility in their genetics for invasive autoimmune triggers like vaccines. But if we just studied the obvious (VACCINES) and their aftermath you would not have to connect autism to genetics to provide a cover for all the damage being caused.
Autism Speaks just keeps on figuring out ways to put good money to bad ideas, all the while paying themselves big salaries.
What saddens me the most is that they know what causes autism and in their refusal to do the science they are continuing to allow another 10 years of studies go by while they search for false positives and harm another decades of babies.
Oh and then after they complete this ridiculous study they will then tell the new mother that she might want to prepare for her newborn's coming autism due to genetics while they jab the baby with a vaccine. Their job is done, warning is given - with the cause!


I have confidence that these studies will prove beyond doubt that the SHANK3 gene is involved in squandering great gobs of money.

Maurine Meleck

Disgusting! What good is early testing going to do anyway-even if they can spot a genetic marker---if they're going to go ahead and vaccinate???????? If they talk about any earlier intervention, they'd have to go back to the Stone Age.
Think of the great vax vs unvax study they could have done with all that money.


Okay fine; But if they don't find anything that would be useful they have to give all that money back.


Some of these studies do appear to have some merit, and the link someone posted earlier to the research being done at the MIND institute was very interesting. I do believe there is both a genetic and an environmental component, so all genetic studies are not a total waste of time. However, the giant elephant still in the room is how our overly aggressive vaccine program figures into all this, My children all experienced their most severe regressions after each MMR vaccine (after the first MMR, they regressed then got better, then regressed more severely after the second one. I consider that a pretty good "challenge, re-challenge test"), all tested positive for elevated heavy metals (never in the MMR), and I ended up with some major health issues from my fillings (resolved with chelation and removal of fillings). My husband, on the other hand, got tons of vaccines over his 24 years in the military, and seems to be fine (so far). More research definitely needs to be done regarding the environmental components, as the genes certainly don't give us the most crucial information: How the h--- to avoid problems in the first place! I am very frustrated with the seemingly purposeful avoidance when it comes to funding proper environmental studies. Really disgraceful!

Kevin Barry

How many of these foolish potential genetics tests (affecting a very small %age of ASD cases) will be administered to a newborn at the hospital before the Hep B birth dose?

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