Page 6 - research hubs
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Autism Research Hub
The Negev Autism Center
Decoding Autism and Creating Tools to Improve Lives
Autism is the second most prevalent neurological disorder among children, affecting approximately 1 in 59 children. Although significant advances have been made in the study and treatment of autism, many questions remain unanswered, and many challenges must still be faced.
Scientists do not fully understand the related biological mechanisms, phenotypic manifestations, or risk factors that culminate in the autism spectrum. Are these factors primarily genetic, environmental, or co-dependent? And while behavioral manifestations have shared common features (i.e., communication problems and/or inappropriate social interaction), the underlying biology of children with autism is frequently very dissimilar.
At the Negev Autism Center (NAC), a broad coalition of researchers and clinicians work together on multiple tracks to answer these fundamental questions. Any one of these avenues has the potential for a breakthrough in decoding autism.
The uniqueness of the NAC begins with its access to the most comprehensive, broad-based registry of children with autism, numbering more than 500 and growing at a rate of 15 per month.
These children are tracked from birth through adulthood. NAC researchers are now collecting saliva samples from registry children to sequence each child’s entire genome. By combining the genetic findings with behavioral, neurological, and clinical data, the researchers believe they can discover how genetics combine with environmental factors to lead to autism.
The Negev Autism Center focuses on younger children, while most contemporary autism research is carried out with adolescents and adults. Many children with autism, for example, suffer from insomnia and sleep disturbances resulting from their hypersensory sensitivity. EEG recordings have revealed that these children have shallow sleep patterns. NAC researchers are now investigating methods for reducing the hypersensory reactions of these children to improve their sleep, and hopefully their overall well-being.
Researchers at the Autism Research Hub are working to advance autism research by “connecting the etiological dots,” from risk factors to biological mechanisms to precise phenotypic manifestations of autism. Ultimately, the NAC is committed to new, creative, and optimal intervention strategies that will improve the lives of millions of people with autism and their families.
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