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Archive - Oct 21, 2019

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Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk Linked to Insufficient Placental Steroid (ALLO); Single ALLO Injection During Pregnancy Enough to Avert Cerebellar Abnormalities and Aberrant Social Behaviors In Experimental Models

A study in experimental models suggests that allopregnanolone (ALLO), one of many hormones produced by the placenta during pregnancy, is so essential to normal fetal brain development that when provision of that hormone decreases or stops abruptly - as occurs with premature birth - offspring are more likely to develop autism-like behaviors. A Children's National Hospital research team reports the findings Oct. 20, 2019, at the Neuroscience 2019 annual meeting in Chicago (October 19-23) (https://www.sfn.org/meetings/neuroscience-2019). The presentation was titled “"Preterm ASD Risk Linked to Cerebellar White Matter Changes.” "To our knowledge, no other research team has studied how placental allopregnanolone (ALLO) contributes to brain development and long-term behaviors," says Claire-Marie Vacher, PhD, lead author. "Our study finds that targeted loss of ALLO in the womb leads to long-term structural alterations of the cerebellum - a brain region that is essential for motor coordination, balance, and social cognition - and increases the risk of developing autism," Dr. Vacher says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 10 infants is born preterm, before 37 weeks gestation; and 1 in 59 children has autism spectrum disorder. In addition to presenting the abstract on Sunday, Anna Penn, MD, PhD, the abstract's senior author, discussed the research with reporters on Monday, October 21, during a Neuroscience 2019 news conference. This Children's National abstract is among 14,000 abstracts submitted for the meeting, the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. ALLO production by the placenta rises in the second trimester of pregnancy, and levels of the neurosteroid peak as fetuses approach full term.

5-Year Funding of $71 Million to Spur Efforts of Trans-Atlantic Collaboration (ACED) of Five Institutions in UK and US to Pursue Earliest Possible Detection of Cancers

Developing radical new strategies and technologies to detect cancer at its earliest stage is the bold ambition of a new trans-atlantic research alliance—the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) -- announced on October 21, 2019 by Cancer Research UK and partners, and to be funded by over £55 million (~$71 million) over the next five years. Early detection is essential to help more people beat cancer – a patient’s chance of surviving his or her disease improves dramatically when cancer is found and treated earlier. Understanding the biology of early cancers and pre-cancerous states will allow doctors to find accurate ways to spot the disease earlier and, where necessary, treat it effectively. It could even enable “precision prevention” – where the disease could be stopped from ever occurring in the first place. UK statistics highlight the major improvements in survival that could be achieved. 5-year survival for six different types of cancer is more than three times higher if the disease is diagnosed at stage one, when the tumor tends to be small and remains localized, compared with survival when diagnosed at stage four, when the cancer tends to be larger and has started to invade surrounding tissue and other organs. Advances in early-detection technologies will help decrease late-stage diagnosis and increase the proportion of people diagnosed at an early and treatable stage, so a future for more patients can be secured. Cancer Research UK is setting out a bold ambition to jump-start this under-explored field of research in a collaboration with teams of scientists from across the UK and the US.