OVER 150 SPEAKERS MANY SPEAKERS NEW TO THE CONFERENCE
Here's a sample:
Daniel Barth, PhD, University of Colorado, presentsImmune responses to brain injury, cortical excitability, brain function, and seizures
Brain infections, as well traumatic brain injury (TBI), activate "microglial" cells in the brain as part of the innate immune response. Activated microglial cells migrate to areas of damage and produce chemicals (cytokines) contributing to repair. However, evidence will be presented here that these cytokines can also pathologically increase the excitability of the brain, potentially leading to compromised brain function and to the development of acute and chronic seizures. Specifically, evidence for seizures induced by brain infection and microglia activation will be shown. Ongoing work concerned with TBI induced post-traumatic epilepsy and post-traumatic anxiety will be reviewed. Finally, the potential relevance of these findings to autism will be discussed.
AJ Russo, PhD, Pfeiffer Treatment Center, presentsDecreased Serum Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) in Autistic Children with GI Disease
The MET gene variant exists in the genome of a significant number of autistic individuals. It facilitates the signaling of its ligand, HGF, and is involved in peripheral organ development and repair, immune function and gastrointestinal repair. We used ELISAs to determine the serum concentration of HGF in autistic children with GI disease and appropriate controls. To determine the potential relationship between HGF levels and oxidative stress, we measured serum levels of Cu/Zn SOD in the same groups, and to help establish the possible cause of abnormal HGF levels, we measured zinc and copper levels to assess a possible association between zinc and/or copper levels and HGF concentration. Preliminary results showed that autistic children with GI disease had lower serum levels of HGF compared to controls, and our preliminary data suggests a correlation between Cu/Zn SOD and HGF levels. We did not find a relationship between Zn or Cu levels and HGF concentration. These results suggest an association between HGF serum levels and the presence of GI disease in autistic children and explain a potential functional connection between the MET gene and autism. Correlation between HGF and Cu/Zn SOD levels suggest HGF levels may be associated with oxidative stress. The concentration of serum HGF may be a useful biomarker for autistic children, especially those with severe GI disease.
Barry Smeltzer, MPAS, PA-C, True Health Medical Center, presentsSleep disturbances and metabolic dysfunction
A good night's sleep is one of the most important functions of our body. It gives the body time to relax, heal, and rejuvenate. It acts as a reset button in the body to start each day fresh with renewed energy and focus. Unfortunately, the prevalence of sleep problems in children with ASD ranges from 44-83%. This leads to irritability, lack of attention and focus, increased behavioral problems, and a depleted immune system. Identifying the underlying causes of the sleep disturbances from both a biomedical and behavioral standpoint will help create more effective and lasting treatments. Addressing the causes, treating the underlying medical issues, and creating a schedule and environment conducive to sleep will help to improve the child's ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. This, in turn, will lead to brighter mornings that everyone will enjoy!
Sargent Goodchild, Active Healing, Inc., presentsNothing Happens Until Something Moves: How Movement Shapes Our Neurological Development
The goal of this workshop is to provide the participants with an initial understanding of how early childhood movements affect neurological organization. The focus will be the functional movements of crawling and creeping and their significance in creating the healthy structures of the pons and midbrain. The influence between these movements and the corresponding structures of the brain will be discussed as they relate to autism spectrum disorders. At the conclusion of this workshop the participant will have the ability to perform a basic developmental screening at home to determine their child's level of proficiency.
Alexander Rotenberg, MD, PhD, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, presents: Prospects for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Autism
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a safe and painless method for noninvasive brain stimulation. In TMS, small electrical currents are generated in the brain by a strong magnetic field that is produced by a powerful electromagnet that is positioned next to a subject's scalp over the area that the investigator desires to stimulate. In recent years, TMS has emerged as a promising tool to either measure or alter cortical excitability. In autism, where the high prevalence of epilepsy suggests that abnormal cortical excitability may contribute to the overall clinical picture, TMS may be of use in two capacities: First, as a diagnostic tool to detect abnormal cortical excitability or abnormal cortical plasticity and aid in characterizing disease severity or response to treatment; second, as a therapeutic tool to restore normal cortical excitability and improve neurologic symptoms such as epilepsy in patients with autism.
William Parker, PhD, Duke University, presentsThe gut-brain connection, the normal human gut, and the effects of post-industrial culture on the gut
A connection between gastrointestinal disorders and autism has begun to emerge. Both the intestinal bacteria and the immune system are likely important in this connection. In the normal gut, the bacteria provide substantial benefits to the human host and receive support for their growth from the immune system. In particular, the immune system provides support for the growth of bacterial biofilms in the normal intestine. Such biofilms not only provide a safe haven for the beneficial bacteria, but also provide a barrier that prevents pathogens from infecting the human host on which the bacteria depend. Over-reactivity of the immune system can lead to a variety of problems in this normally well-balanced system, which in turn may exert effects in other parts of the body, including the brain. Increasing levels of such over-reactivity in developed countries is generally attributed to the absence of some of the organisms normally occurring in the gut (the biota of the gut) for which the immune system depends. Ongoing studies suggest that the changes in the immune system associated with biota deficiency are profound and pervasive, and provide a basis for understanding a variety of immune-associated disorders associated with post-industrial society.
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