Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CHARGE: an ambitious study of autism seeking causal agents

I'm not sure what to make of this. It sounds exceedingly ambitious, but do we really have a good enough definition of the disorder to do this kind of study? Maybe they figure by the time it really gets going we'll have better genetic markers to use for inclusion criteria. It will likely be many years before the study yields results.
Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jul;114(7):1119-25. The CHARGE Study: An Epidemiologic Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Factors Contributing to Autism. Hertz-Picciotto I, Croen LA, Hansen R, Jones CR, van de Water J, Pessah IN.

.... In light of major gaps in understanding of autism, a large case-control investigation of underlying environmental and genetic causes for autism and triggers of regression has been launched. The CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment) study will address a wide spectrum of chemical and biologic exposures, susceptibility factors, and their interactions. Phenotypic variation among children with autism will be explored, as will similarities and differences with developmental delay. The CHARGE study infrastructure includes detailed developmental assessments, medical information, questionnaire data, and biologic specimens. The CHARGE study is linked to University of California-Davis Center for Children's Environmental Health laboratories in immunology, xenobiotic measurement, cell signaling, genomics, and proteomics....
Note that when they say "environmental" they're talking about "expression may be influenced, in some cases strongly, by the prenatal and early postnatal environmental milieu". I don't know what they mean about "early postnatal". Do they mean months or years? My guess is they're looking a the first few months of life.

They definitely have enough buzzwords, I'll cross my fingers and hope they can stick with the project.

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