Launch of Australia's first Autism Biobank
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health, will officially launch Australia’s first Autism Biobank, pioneered by the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), at Wesley Medical Research on Monday, 21 March at 12pm.
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 CRC CEO, Mr Andrew Davis, said 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 Mr Davis.
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.
“Biobank information will allow us to make sense of the various biological pathways that are related to autism and assist in developing a national, standardised, accurate diagnostic protocol, enabling tailored support at the earliest possible stage,” said Mr Davis.
“It is critical for children on the autism spectrum to receive targeted, early intervention as early as possible in order for them to reach their full potential and find a valued place in society. Providing a diagnostic tool to support clinicians to accurately diagnose autism early in life will have life-long benefits for the child and their family.”
Stored at the ABB Wesley Medical Research Tissue Bank, the Australian Autism Biobank will be an asset highly sought after by researchers from around the world.
“The Australian Autism Biobank is a wonderful example of the advantages of cooperative clinical research. Banks such as these link clinical information with biological specimens, allowing scientists and doctors to join forces in their research. Wesley Medical Research has a number of other such repositories, providing a huge advantage for Australian clinical research,” said Professor David Paterson, CEO of Wesley Medical Research.
Autism CRC is a unique, world-first collaboration that has brought together key people, data and research facilities across Australia, and enabled large scale projects such as the Biobank to become a reality.
Undertaking research across the lifespan, Autism CRC will provide the evidence base to support individuals on the spectrum throughout their lives. This large scale research effort will 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.