EAPS 2014 Day 3 – Plenary talk on Neuroembryology and Autism
Perhaps not an immediately clinically relevant talk, but the concepts may well ultimately provide meaning (and perhaps interventions) for families affected by autism.
Prof Jack Price of King’s College London described his collaboration with others in the exploratoration of how neuronal cells from children with autism (they make pluripotent stem cells from hair samples from affected children!), differ; morphologically, synaptically, and epigenetically from neuronal cells derived from healthy (neurotypical) controls. Amazing technology!
Although genetic abnormalities can be found in c20% of autistic children (the SHANK3 gene seems to be popular) , his laboratory has found that neuronal cells grown from affected children without a defined genetic mutation also show similar morphological changes to those of the autistic children with a known genetic defect. The implication is that autism might be a cell phenotype associated with the disease, which may have various underlying genetic or epigenetic (or other) causes.