The Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT) is a multicenter research study based at Yale that spans Duke University, Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of California, Los Angeles. The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in people with autism.
ASD is neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction and communication skills and can cause restricted and repetitive behaviors. Approximately 1 percent of children throughout the world have ASD, each with his or her own unique combination of symptoms and levels of function. It is this extensive “spectrum” of symptoms and severity that has proven to be particularly challenging for clinical research.
Currently, autism is diagnosed and treated based on information gathered from clinical assessments and parent questionnaires. ABC-CT will add to this pool of knowledge by developing a more objective battery of tools to measure social function. Using EEG to measure brain function, eye tracking technology to measure visual attention, and automated recording techniques to assess behavior and speech, children aged 6 to 11 will be monitored over a six-month period. In addition to the behavioral measures and biomarker data, this community resource will also include DNA samples from children with ASD and their parents for use in future genetic studies.
The consortium will establish a technical and data infrastructure for reliably measuring social function, allowing the collaborating sites to work together as a single unit. The goal is to create a set of measures that can be used in clinical trials to determine which treatments are best for which patients and who will benefit from a particular treatment. The ultimate goal is to validate a set of tools that will enable clinicians to objectively measure and predict how children with ASD respond to treatment.
ABC-CT is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), as well as the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), and other partners. The effort is supported by the FNIH Biomarkers Consortium, a public-private partnership that aims to accelerate biomedical research progress, drawing upon technical input and expert advice from Janssen Research and Development, LLC and the European Autism Interventions-A Multicentre Study for Developing New Medications (EU-AIMS). The project will be conducted in close collaboration with multiple partners and stakeholders—including SFARI, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Janssen Research and Development, LLC, and EU-AIMS—to provide critical input and coordination among public and private sector partners.
To learn more about the study or to participate, please contact:
- Boston Children’s Hospital: Laura Nelson at 857-218-3182 or ABC-CT@childrens.harvard.edu
- Duke University: Lori Reinhart-Mercer at 1-888-691-1062 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- UCLA: Elizabeth Baker at 310-825-0180 or email@example.com
- University of Washington: 206-616-2889 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yale Child Study Center: Bela Ponjevic at 203-785-6108 or email@example.com