Clarkson University research team receives $38k grant for autism study
Friday, July 5, 2013 - 6:37 am

Clarkson University autism researchers include, from left, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie, student Kelly Wormwood, Ph.D. student Izabela Sokolowska, student Katherine M. Beglinger, Ph.D. student Armand Ngounou and Research Assistant Professor Alisa G. Woods.

POTSDAM -- Clarkson University’s Laboratory for Biochemistry and Proteomics has received a $38,000 grant to study the potential causes of autism.

The laboratory, which is run by Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel Darie, received the grant from Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC. Clarkson researchers will collaborate with cognitive neuroscientist Jeanne Ryan of SUNY Plattsburgh to examine autism indicators in the saliva of children.

These protein biomarker indicators can provide a window into a child’s brain functions and lead to earlier autism detection, according to Clarkson University Research Assistant Professor Alisa Woods.

“If you can treat early for behavioral problems, you have a much better likelihood for success,” Woods said. “I just want more kids to get diagnosed early. The earlier you treat, the better the outcomes.”

The one-year research project will compare the protein biomarkers in the saliva of autistic children with their siblings who do not have the disorder. About one in 50 school-age children is diagnosed with autism, according to a recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly one million children ages six to 17 face formidable challenges in communication, behavior and social interaction.

Woods recently discussed the lab’s research in a keynote speech, “Protein Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorders,” at the ICare4Autism International Autism Conference at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.