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ACH gets $1.9 million grant to study autism.

Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute received a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the connection between autism and abnormal levels of metabolites in the blood.

The grant, titled "Metabolic Biomarkers of Autism: Predictive Potential and Genetic Susceptibility," will fund a five-year study to resolve whether abnormal levels of metabolites in the blood are associated with specific autistic behaviors and whether this abnormal metabolic profile is genetically determined.

The study also will try to establish whether such an abnormal metabolic profile can be used to predict autism in developmentally delayed children. Currently, the diagnosis of autism is based solely on behavioral criteria, and there is no biochemical test to identify children at risk of developing autism.

Jill James, director of the Metabolic Genomics Laboratory at ACHRI, will lead the study, assisted by Stephan Melnyk, Stefanie Jernigan, Shannon Palmer and Alena Svenka. James published a paper on the connection between autism and abnormal metabolic levels in the August issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics. James also is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine.

Autism is a behaviorally defined neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by repetitive behavior, social withdrawal, and impaired speech and reciprocal communications skills. It affects more than 2,500 children in Arkansas.
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Title Annotation:HEALTH CARE
Author:Gordon, James
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 30, 2006
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