Monday, February 25, 2013, Cleveland: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded $1.97 million for innovative autism research to Bruce Trapp, Ph.D., Chairman of Neurosciences at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute. The grant supports a promising new avenue for understanding the development of autism spectrum disorder with Trapp's research of astrocytes, the most abundant human brain cell.
Autism spectrum disorders are behavioral disorders highlighted by social and communicative dysfunction, including repetitive behavior. These characteristics are caused by altered synaptic function in select brain regions. Previously assumed to affect only neurons, new evidence suggests that another central nervous system cell, the astrocyte, can shed light on the behavioral abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder.
Trapp and his team of researchers will use a novel model of autism spectrum disorder and emerging microscopic technology to observe the development and interaction of astrocytes in the presence of autism spectrum disorders. "These studies will provide a critical framework for future strategies to target astrocytes in the treatment and prevention of autism spectrum disorders," Trapp said.
Trapp is internationally known for his work on mechanisms of neurodegeneration and repair in multiple sclerosis. His past research has included investigation of the cause of neurological disability in multiple sclerosis patients, cellular mechanism of brain repair in neurodegenerative diseases, and the molecular biology of myelination in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
For more information on Trapp's research, visit http://www.lerner.ccf.org/neurosci/trapp/
The grant is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health under award number R01MH099588.
About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S .News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation's best hospitals in its annual "America's Best Hospitals" survey. About 2,800 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic Health System includes a main campus near downtown Cleveland, eight community hospitals and 18 Family Health Centers in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and opening in 2013, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2010, there were 4 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 167,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 100 countries. Visit us at www.clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at www.twitter.com/ClevelandClinic.
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