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Discovery of epigenetic patterns associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder could be the first step towards earlier diagnosis

September 27, 2016
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BC Children’s Hospital and UBC researchers have found an epigenetic signature associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which could eventually lead to the development of new tests that would provide an earlier, more conclusive diagnosis of FASD.

“This study provides important insight into how fetal alcohol exposure affects children on a genetic level,” says Alexandre Lussier, a UBC Doctoral student supervised by Dr. Michael Kobor and Dr. Joanne Weinberg and co-lead author of the study. “This research may be an early step towards developing laboratory tests for FASD. Right now, doctors diagnose FASD by observing symptoms, and some children might not receive a diagnosis until they’re school age or older.”

This research was covered in media stories across Canada, including stories from CBC, the Vancouver Sun and CTV News. More information about the study can also be found on the Kids Brain Health Network (formerly NeuroDevNet) website.

Key Collaborators:

  • Dr. Elodie Portales-Casamar: Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital; Clinical Assistant Professor, UBC Department of Pediatrics
  • Alexandre A. Lussier: UBC Doctoral Student co-supervised by Dr. Michael Kobor and Dr. Joanne Weinberg
  • Dr. Michael S. Kobor: Theme Lead, Healthy Starts, BC Children's Hospital; Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics; Professor, UBC Department of Medical Genetics
  • Dr. Meaghan J. Jones: Postdoctoral Fellow, Kobor lab, BC Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Julia L. MacIsaac: Research Associate, Kobor lab, BC Children’s Hospital
  • Rachel Edgar: Research Assistant, Kobor Lab, BC Children’s Hospital
  • Sarah M. Mah: former Lab Manager, Kobor Lab, BC Children’s Hospital

Funding:

This work was supported by Kids Brain Health Network (formerly NeuroDevNet), which is funded by the Government of Canada Networks of Centres of Excellence, and a Mining for Miracles Postdoctoral Fellowship to Dr. Meaghan Jones.