from the September 2011 issue

Weizmann Institute's groundbreaking research on autism

A luncheon audience at the Mount Stephen Club was recently exposed to news about groundbreaking research on autism and fertility thanks to the prowess of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science. Dr. Phil Gold moderated the event, singing the praises of the Institute via his close affiliation with Weizmann Canada.

Dr. Ilan Dinstein began the program by discussing his research on the early detection of autism. Research in this area is still in its infancy and the field is full of divergent theories. "This is because autism is a complicated story," he explained. "In the last 10 years, autism has gotten much more attention. However that doesn't mean our understanding of the disease has improved."

For the past two years Dr. Dinstein has been conducting post-doctoral research with his colleague Rafael Malach at the Weizmann Institute. Recently he has begun analyzing data from sleeping autistic and control toddlers between two and three years of age. The data itself was acquired in San Diego as part of a National Institute of Health (NIH) autism research excellence centre. "It has become evidently clear in the last several years that the brain exhibits organized spontaneous activity during rest and sleep," he explained.

Dr. Dinstein said that when his study is published in the next few months it will suggest both a physiological tool that may aid diagnosis, as well as a natural mechanism that may underlie disrupted language development in autism.

Roslyn and Howard Kaman of Toronto and their miracle baby Hanna gave everyone in the room reason to smile. Over the course of nine years she had 11 inseminations and three pregnancies. One miscarried and two others were ectopics, in which the embryo implanted outside the uterus. She had all but given up hope until she unexpectedly came across a news article about the Weizmann Institute having worked with the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. Professor Nava Dekel, head of the Weizmann department of biological research, had conducted a study in which a sample group of 12 women underwent uterine biopsy - a scraping of the lining of the uterus - prior to in-vitro fertilization. Remarkably, 11 of those women carried their pregnancies to full term. Less than a year later Hanna, now two and a half, was born. "I hope to one day go to Israel and introduce Hanna to the people at the Weizmann Institute," she said.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report September 2011

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