Autism Biobank launched in Australia

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Australian researchers could find themselves at the forefront of biological discoveries relating to autism thanks to a new Biobank being launched by one of the country’s leading research centres

The Autism CRC Biobank aims to assist researchers to develop an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism.

Autism CRC Chair, Judy Brewer, said the Biobank will contain detailed biological and phenotypic information collected from families where a family member has autism, providing a unique set of data of value to autism research.

‘The data will also inform one of Autism CRC’s core programs aiming to develop a national, standardised, accurate diagnostic protocol that enables the right support to be provided at the earliest possible stage,’ she said.

‘Currently in Australia and around the world, diagnosis of autism is still based on behavioural profiling of the child, teenager or adult, in a process that takes many months, involves many specialists and is expensive,’ Brewer explained.

‘This process is causing delays in diagnosis and, in many cases, there is a misdiagnosis leading to the incorrect and ineffective support being provided. ‘By combining detailed behavioural information with potential breakthroughs in biological research, made possible through the Autism CRC Biobank, we will be able to provide earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism.’

Autism CRC Director of Research into Diagnosis, Professor Andrew Whitehouse from the Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, said that biological research into autism has never been more exciting.

‘Potential genetic, neurological and biochemical markers for autism are being discovered at an unprecedented rate. It isn’t just about collecting the biological data, it is also about making sense of this information and there are literally millions upon millions of different biological pathways that may be related to autism.

‘We aim to provide early, detailed diagnostic information leading to the most effective interventions for children with autism, so that they may get the best start in life.’

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