Autism and Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month as well as Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Last year, we interviewed Dana Alliance member Barry Gordon, M.D., director of cognitive neurology/neuropsychology at Johns Hopkins University, as well as Dana Alliance member Mahlon DeLong, M.D., a neurology professor at Emory University.

I e-mailed Dr. Gordon this week to get a quick update about autism research. He said there has been incremental progress in both the basic genetic studies and in some of the epidemiologic studies, such as a recent study suggesting a link between prenatal antidepressant use and autism.

He also told me that he is the director of a new effort at Hopkins called “Autism through Life,” which will “consider aspects of autism beyond the usual childhood perspective, throughout adulthood.” Hopkins also has a Science of Learning Institute which will consider autism among the conditions of interest. He anticipates they will have something substantial to report in about a year.

As for Parkinson’s disease, there have been many new studies since last April. Two recent Brain in the News issues included Parkinson’s articles: one about how deep brain stimulation can be used to treat Parkinson’s and another on a particular protein’s involvement. For an overview of the current state of Parkinson’s research, read the Dana Foundation’s December Report on Progress, “Finding a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease.”

– Andrew Kahn

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