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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Autism Research and Environmental Toxicity

Martha Herbert, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the TRANSCEND research laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, sent us a link to the cover story of the January/February, 2010 issue of E – The Environmental Magazine, entitled, The Search for Autism’s Missing Piece – Autism Research Slowly Turns Its Focus to Environmental Toxicity. You can read it here: http://www.emagazine.com/view/?4984&printview&imagesoff

The lengthy piece recalls a comment by Sudhir Gupta, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Basic and Clinical Immunology at the University of California, Irvine, who once famously remarked in regard to autism: “Genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” Pioneering U.C. San Francisco Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. agrees, saying, “I think there is lots of evidence for increased incidence of autism. Overwhelmingly it supports that there are things in the environment that are contributing to the rate of incidence.” Even so, notes James Adams, Ph.D., head of the Autism/Asperger’s Research Program at Arizona State University, “Most of the autism research is focused on problems in the brain, on genetics and on behavioral treatments. There is still extremely little money out there for looking into environmental issues. And there’s also extremely little money out there for looking at treatments for autism.”

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