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MCL 20450: Systems and Methods for Identification of Autism and Other Disorders

Nicholas Lange, Ph.D., et al.

Background and Description

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life, which affects the functioning of the brain, so that both children and adults suffering from autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans are living with the effects of autism spectrum disorder. A 2007 CDC report estimated that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 150 American children, and almost 1 in every 94 boys, and based on government statistics, autism is growing at a startling rate of 10-17% per year. There are no suitable treatments for autism, and current diagnostic methods are subjective and are symptom-based. There are no biologically-based methods of detecting autism. The invention is based on the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in magnetic resonance imaging scans to examine discrete brain areas known to be involved in the pathology of autism. The DTI scans allow visualization and measurement of the microscopic fiber structures of the brain that enable language, social and emotional functioning, and by focusing on six specific aspects of the brain's circuitry, the test was able to correctly distinguish those who had previously been diagnosed with autism with 94% accuracy, by detecting deviations that are not found in those without autism.

Potential Commercial Uses

The invention comprises the use of novel DTI scans to provide an objective diagnostic test for autism and related disorders, to enable earlier, more accurate diagnosis. It is hoped that this test could someday replace the subjective test now used to identify those with the disorder. This method could also lead to a better understanding of autism and its causes and to better management and treatments of affected individuals, possibly including development of efficacious therapeutics for this disorder.

Publication and Patent Status

McLean Hospital and the University of Utah have filed U.S. and international patent applications claiming this invention, which has been published as Lange et al, Autism Res 3(6): 350-358 (2010) PMID 21182212.

Licenses Available

McLean Hospital and the University of Utah are offering a worldwide exclusive license to this technology.

For more information, please contact:

David J. Glass, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Director, Technology Transfer
McLean Hospital Research Administration
115 Mill Street
Belmont, MA 02478-9106
(617) 855-3825 - tel
(617) 855-3745 - fax