For a long time cerebral palsy has been thought to be due to complications at birth, however, new research suggests that 35% of cerebral palsy has a genetic cause. For this group of patients, an answer may well be in the making as this year researchers have come together from as far afield as China, Canada, USA, Sweden, Turkey, and Australia to form the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium.
The newly formed consortium held it's first meeting in Adelaide earlier this year and has the lofty goal of building an international medical registry and DNA biobank. This platform will allow researchers to work together to identify the genes that may cause cerebral palsy. The scientists believe that identifying the genes that cause cerebral palsy, will allow early detection of the disability, providing an opportunity for early intervention or perhaps even treatment.
"For decades, it has been the belief that cerebral palsy occurs when a child experiences a lack of oxygen during pregnancy or at birth. However, the evidence shows that at least one in four cerebral palsy cases is associated with genetic mutations," Emeritus Professor MacLennan says.
To help with their research the The Tenix and Cerebral Palsy Foundations awarded the two scientists $1 million in funding. The funds will be used to establish the online genomics database platform at Adelaide University.
"By pooling international data sets of genetically and clinically characterised cerebral palsy cases, this will enable our group to identify common neurodevelopmental pathways and probable environmental triggers.* Professor Gecz says.