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US Autism & Asperger Association
January 6, 2012

Welcome to USAAA WeeklyNews, an email newsletter that addresses a range of topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger's Syndrome.


USC scientists create first three-dimensional map of the human genome

usc logoFor the first time, scientists have developed a method for generating accurate three-dimensional models of the entire DNA strand of a cell, known as a genome.

"Understanding the structure of the genome is crucial to understanding its function as a whole," said Lin Chen, professor of molecular biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

The genome plays a central role in the functions of almost all human cells -and flaws in its structure are thought to cause various disorders, including cancer.

Understanding the structure of the genome is crucial to understanding its function as a whole, said Lin Chen, professor of molecular biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
FULL STORY

Genomics giant joins fight to beat autism

Various environmental toxins have been shown to cause oxidative damage to the cell. Metal-mediated formation of free radicals causes various modifications to DNA bases

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Metabolic Imbalance Associated with Methylation Dysregulation and Oxidative Damage in Children with Autism

umac logoMelnyk S, Fuchs GJ, Schulz E, Lopez M, Kahler SG, Fussell JJ, Bellando J, Pavliv O, Rose S, Seidel L, Gaylor DW, Jill James S., Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA

Oxidative stress and abnormal DNA methylation have been implicated in the pathophysiology of autism. We investigated the dynamics of an integrated metabolic pathway essential for cellular antioxidant and methylation capacity in 68 children with autism, 54 age-matched control children and 40 unaffected siblings. The metabolic profile of unaffected siblings differed significantly from case siblings but not from controls.

The deficit in antioxidant and methylation capacity is specific for autism and may promote cellular damage and altered epigenetic gene expression.

Oxidative protein/DNA damage, and DNA hypomethylation (epigenetic alteration) were found in autistic children but not paired siblings or controls. These data indicate that the deficit in antioxidant and methylation capacity is specific for autism and may promote cellularĀ damageĀ and altered epigenetic gene expression. Further, these results suggest a plausible mechanism by which pro-oxidant environmental stressors may modulate genetic predisposition to autism.

FULL STORY

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Biomarker for autism may be on horizon

usf health logoElevated levels of a protein fragment circulating in the blood may serve as a biomarker for autism, U.S. researchers say.

The findings... suggest the protein fragment might be both a biomarker for autism.

Dr. Jun Tan of the University of South Florida's Silver Child Development Center said immune system abnormalities that mimic those seen with autism spectrum disorders have been linked to the amyloid precursor protein.

The elevated levels of this protein fragment circulating in the blood could explain immune cell population changes observed in some autism patients, explained Tan, the study team leader.

FULL STORY

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Big mines linked to increase in toxic releases in 2010

copper mineBY JUDY FAHYS
The Salt Lake Tribune

More earth moving at U.S. mines meant a big boost in toxic chemicals released into the nation’s air, land and water, according to the latest data.

"the more toxic chemicals released into the environment, the more suffering” Utahns will experience in neurological disorders, heart ailments, cancer, respiratory illness and other health impacts."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that government and industry reported nearly 4 billion pounds in the latest Toxics Release Inventory, a tally for 2010. The overall increase was 16 percent from the previous year, much of it thanks to changes at Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon and the nation’s other big mining operations. FULL STORY

Your right to know: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes toxic chemical reports available online, and learning more about releases nationwide, in your state and even in your neighborhood is easy. Here's a link: http://www.epa.gov/tri.

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