MicroRNA Autism Research Study (MARS) (microRNA)
MicroRNA Autism Research Study
Centre for Future Health, Research Priming Fund: £35,161
Collaboration between Prof Barry Wright and Dr Dimitris Lagos (Centre for Immunology and Infection at the University of York)
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are common (1/100 in the UK). Autism is often passed down in families but there is no known biological marker for autism despite very strong genetic heritability. The implication is that a metagenetic function is important but is as yet unidentified. COMIC will explore microRNAs which are a strong potential candidate mechanism. MicroRNAs modulate gene expression, and are likely to be important in the generation of synapses, neuronal growth and development. The COMIC team will look at microRNAs in the blood of families, comparing people with and without autism in the family.
If microRNAs are identified as potential biomarkers in autism it will help develop more understanding about specific biological pathways and developmental processes that are affected. This could ultimately lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets.