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Autism BrainNet

Autism study seeks brain tissue donations

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The numbers are staggering: 1 in 68 kids are now diagnosed with autism. But researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital are hoping to unlock the mystery behind the disorder.

A lab called Autism BrainNet is collecting brains for study. The belief is that brain tissue study is the key to solving autism.

Christine Matthews is a mother of three boys. Her youngest, 14-year-old Casey, has autism. Recently, the family doctor approached the Matthews family about donating Casey's brain to new research project if something unexpected were to happen. She said she had no hesitation about donating her child's brain to potentially help thousands of children.

Allison Singer and the Autism Science Foundation are helping coordinate the effort. Mount Sinai in Manhattan and three other research centers around the country will serve as regional collection points.

Unlike with Alzheimer's disease, where literally thousands of brains have been studied, during the last three decades only 100 autism brains have been studied. Four to five brains are donated for research every year.

The Autism BrainNet study is looking to triple that number with the hope of answering some of the most basic questions about the disorder.

Dr. Patrick Hof, a neuroscientist, will lead the team at Mount Sinai. He said that dissecting the structure of a brain can help unlock some autism features like repetitive behaviors and difficulties in social settings.

Organ donation of this nature is obviously an important and difficult decision for families. For more information about the program go to: http://www.takesbrains.org

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