McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster professor awarded $2.5-million for autism and Fragile X syndrome research

Published: May 1, 2014

McMaster professor Laurie Doering has received $2.5-million to lead a team researching new treatments for social disability disorders including autism.

Through a public-private partnership, the Brain Canada foundation, the Azrieli Foundation and the Chagnon Family are funding research projects to discover new treatment and prevention strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Fragile X syndrome, and Alzheimer disease and related disorders.

Doering’s project, one of five to receive funding, was announced today in Montreal.


"The research will help determine ways to counteract the consequences of intellectual and social disabilities associated with autism," says Doering, professor of pathology and molecular medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

In the brain, a type of cell called the astrocyte is important for the proper growth and function of the brain. Astrocytes act as gatekeepers of healthy brain function by producing substances to ensure that the communication signals in the brain are normal. Astrocytes and the substances they make are affected in neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and Fragile X. Alterations in astrocyte specific substances, in turn, upset brain functions that control learning, memory and behavior.

"Our research will use different biological and genetic techniques to determine the effects of astrocyte-specific molecules on brain function in an attempt to correct the communication patterns in models of autism and Fragile X," says Doering. "By altering the signaling or by applying substances from normal astrocytes to autistic brain cells, the experimental interventions by the team will offset the development of abnormal communication in the brain.

Fragile X and Autism Research
(FXAR) website

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