Autism CRC delivers Australia’s first Autism Biobank
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health, officially launched Australia’s first Autism Biobank, pioneered by the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) on 21 March 2016.
The Australian Autism Biobank will contain a detailed phenotypic and genotypic profile of each donor providing a rich and unique dataset of almost 5,000 individuals, developing a valuable asset for Australian researchers and their international collaborators.
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is an Essential Participant of the Autism CRC. Aspect CEO and Autism CRC Board Director, Adrian Ford, welcomed the announcement saying, “This is yet another example of the world-class work being done through the Autism CRC to improve knowledge through inclusive, end-user driven research initiatives.”
Autism CRC Chair and former Aspect Patron, Ms Judy Brewer, said in her statement on the Autism CRC website that the Biobank is a highly valuable resource for Australian researchers which has the potential to put them at the forefront of biological discoveries related to autism.
“Autism CRC researchers will use Biobank data to pursue our goal of earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism. Currently the majority of children are diagnosed after the age of four. We aim to dramatically reduce the age of diagnosis to under two years of age,” said Ms Brewer.
According to the Autism CRC, a greater awareness of autism and changes in the diagnostic criteria have led to increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism in the past 10 years. However, with no established biomarker for autism, diagnosis relies solely on behavioural profiling.
Autism CRC is itself a unique, world-first collaboration that has brought together key people, data and research facilities across Australia – including Aspect with its particular expertise in evidence-informed educational practice – and enabled large scale projects such as the Biobank to become a reality.
Undertaking research across the lifespan, Autism CRC will provide an evidence base to support individuals on the spectrum throughout their lives. One of the potential applications of the Biobank, as a large scale research effort, is to help match children with the early intervention that works best for their biological make-up and develop interventions for use through the school years and into adulthood.
Find out more on the Autism CRC website.