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Associate professor at TNU receives grant from the Riisfort Foundation

Cecilie Bay-Richter, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University receives DKK 200,000 from the Riisfort Foundation for research into specific molecules and neurotransmitters in the brains of mice with autism-like behaviour.

Cecilie Bay-Richter
Cecilie Bay-Richter receives DKK 200,000 from the Riisfort Foundation. Photo: Darren Claire

Cecilie Bay-Richter hopes to be able to demonstrate a correlation between specific genetic modifications and specific molecular abnormalities as such discoveries would pave the way for improved diagnosis and new treatment options for people with autism.

Recent research has shown that about half of all children and adults with autism have an abnormal chromosome 22, and that 11% of people with abnormalities on chromosome 15 also suffer from autism. In order to achieve a better understanding of the consequences of these DNA abnormalities, special mice with similar abnormalities have been developed. These models can be used to better understand the biological basis of the disorder. Thus, Cecilie Bay-Richter is going to examine whether the mice have increased levels of inflammatory molecules as well as dysregulation of specific neurotransmitters. Previous research has shown that many mental disorders are associated with inflammation in the brain, which can be measured as an increased expression of inflammatory molecules (cytokines). Furthermore, other studies have shown that many people suffering from autism also have a dysregulation of the neurotransmitter substances dopamine and serotonin in the brain. 

The preliminary results of the group indicate that people with the mentioned genetic modifications have an increased risk of developing autism and that this might relate to an altered metabolism of specific neurotransmitter substances. Therefore, screening for these gene variations may become a future mean for early diagnosis. Furthermore, if the research group finds specific molecular abnormalities as a result of the genetic modifications, the findings may open for new treatment strategies.

Cecilie Bay-Richter, Associate Professor, PhD
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine
Translational Neuropsychiatry Unit

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