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Weksberg Lab

Autism

Current research suggests that early embryonic factors can change epigenetic packaging. This project is looking at epigenetic factors which may influence the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We are studying the potential impact of early embryo environment on epigenetic packaging. One environmental factor we are studying is assisted reproduction.

Assisted reproductive techniques (ART) such as ovulation stimulation, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) include exposure of gametes and early embryos to different environmental factors. We are asking if assisted reproduction could potentially change epigenetic packaging in gametes or embryos.

We are focusing on the following questions:

  • Is there an increased rate of epimutations in children born following ART?
  • Are specific epimutations associated with ASD?
  • Will specific epimutations help us to identify new genes involved in the development of ASD?