Cute 6 years old boy looking through the window

All over the world, the potential of biobanking is being recognised. In Australia, for example, the first Autism Biobank has just been launched by the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC).

The Australian Autism Biobank will contain a detailed phenotypic and genotypic profile of each donor providing a unique dataset of almost 5,000 individuals, developing a valuable asset for Australian researchers and their international collaborators. Autism CRC Chair Ms Judy Brewer said: “The Biobank is a highly valuable resource for Australian researchers which has the potential to put them at the forefront of biological discoveries related to autism. “Autism CRC researchers will use Biobank data to pursue our goal of earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism. Currently the majority of children are diagnosed after the age of four. We aim to dramatically reduce the age of diagnosis to under two years of age.

“A greater awareness of autism and changes in the diagnostic criteria have led to increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism in the past 10 years. However, with no established biomarker for autism, diagnosis relies solely on behavioural profiling. “Biobank information will allow us to make sense of the various biological pathways that are related to autism and assist in developing a national, standardised, accurate diagnostic protocol, enabling tailored support at the earliest possible stage.” Stored at the ABB Wesley Medical Research Tissue Bank, the Australian Autism Biobank will be an asset highly sought after by researchers from around the world. Professor David Paterson, CEO of Wesley Medical Research, said: “The Australian Autism Biobank is a wonderful example of the advantages of cooperative clinical research. Banks suchas these link clinical information with biological specimens, allowing scientists and doctors to join forces in their research.”

Among those who will be contributing data to the Biobank are Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, La Trobe University, University of New South Wales, Mater Research, University of Queensland and The Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland is also involved.