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Dragonfly Dreamtime - St. Croix Courier - Feb. 19, 2013

posted Feb 20, 2013, 10:50 AM by Dragonfly Centre for Autism Inc

Dragonfly Dreamtime

Mary Casement

February 14, 2013

 

So far, this has been a month of good news for Dragonfly and Autism.  An article recently published in CIFAR, an independent research institute comprising nearly 400 researchers from more than 100 academic institutions in 16 countries, indicates that a Canadian researcher has made some significant breakthroughs in the genetic factors in autism. The article by Marcia Kaye states “For generations, autism was like an impenetrable black box, mystifying doctors, isolating children and frustrating families. But Canadian-led research is rapidly changing that. “We’ve cracked open the black box and we’re letting more and more light in,” says internationally renowned geneticist Stephen Scherer, member of CIFAR’s Genetic Networks program. “We’ve made more progress in the last couple of years than in the previous two decades.  Scherer, director of both the University of Toronto McLaughlin Centre and the Centre for Applied Genomics at the Hospital for Sick Children, is spearheading research that is revolutionizing our understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and may lead to medications to prevent, control or reverse symptoms of the condition.”

Scherer’s team was one of the first in the world to find that while autism has genetic roots, people with ASD don’t have identical mutations in one or a few genes, as was previously assumed. Working with the Autism Genome Project consortium, Scherer discovered that people with autism each have their own personal arrangement of genetic glitches, many of them arising spontaneously, which leads to their own individual form of autism. Scherer’s newest finding, based on unpublished preliminary data, is that 200 to 300 genes are involved. The Canadian group and their collaborators are now analyzing the genomes of 10,000 families with autism.”  You can read the whole article at http://knowledgecircle.cifar.ca .  It is very encouraging to read about progress of this magnitude.

We had some terrific news from the St. George Masonic Lodge members who have offered to host a fund raising dinner for us.  Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 23 starting at 4 pm at the Masonic Lodge,  2 Carleton Street, in St. George.  The Masons are cooking up a full Roast Beef dinner with dessert, tea & coffee for only $10 a ticket.  What a deal!  And all the proceeds will be going to support our Dragonfly summer camp programs.  Everyone wins on this event.  Contact Mary at 465-8900 or Tom at 653-7505 for tickets before March 15th.  Only 100 tickets available so get ‘em quick!

The good news just kept rolling in last week when the Human Service students at NBCC with instructor Christina Lindsay invited me down for a presentation about autism to their group and then returned the compliment with the whole class coming down to the resource office for a tour to learn more about our services and how they can get involved.  They are such an enthusiastic group, very interested in working in the field of autism service, and full of money raising ideas for Dragonfly that they have volunteered to organize at the college.  They have certainly expanded the scope of their two week autism module.

We are still waiting to hear about various funding applications we have submitted in the hopes of broadening our summer camp program to reach even more kids in the area.  Let’s hope the good news trend continues into next month when we find out if the Province of New Brunswick will maintain our base operational grant. Keep your fingers crossed…

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