Current Research Opportunities
Are you interested in having your family or your child with chromosome 15q11.2-13.1 duplication syndrome participate in research studies? Some of the studies may involve only a phone interview, questionnaire or mailing of information. Some studies may require you to travel to other cities. Others may involve blood tests, EEG’s and other medical procedures.
As part of our mission, Dup15q Alliance seeks to unite families, researchers, and professionals; and promote research, awareness, and understanding of chromosome 15q11.2-13.1 duplication syndrome and related disorders. Dup15q Alliance formally endorses and funds research and collaborates with researchers interested in research on chromosome 15q duplications by disseminating research information and promoting opportunities for Dup15q Alliance families to participate in research studies.
The Dup15q Alliance is determined to make 2020 the year that we take our family and patient involvement to the next level. We NEED to find better treatments for all of the symptoms of dup15q syndrome. We NEED to know how those with dup15q syndrome develop over time. We NEED to know why some children affected by dup15q syndrome have seizures and some don’t. We NEED to emphasize the importance of research. Direct patient and family research is critical to meet these needs, identify other needs, get better treatments and make positive changes to the lives of all those affected by dup15q syndrome. We may be rare but we are not small. We have several opportunities as a powerful community to drive our researchers to do better. The more we participate, the more they hear us and our outcry for answers.
Cellular Phenotypes in Dup15q Syndrome
Together with David Mandell from U. Penn, Autism Science Foundation has recently launched the EXPECT survey: Experiences of Participants Enrolled in Clinical Trials. The goal is to obtain feedback from people who both did or did not participate in an in person research study and about their experiences including why their would or would not do one again, or why they have never participated in one. It involves a 20-30 minute survey and anyone who wishes to share their email address will be entered to win an iPad. The results will be used to focus efforts on ensuring participation in research studies, including clinical trials, across idiopathic and rare genetic forms of ASD.
The Global Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Research Project
Dup15q Alliance has partnered with the Brain Recovery Project to see if surgical interventions “work” on Dup15q Syndrome related seizures.
The Global Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery registry is a research project that allows families to share their experiences with and without epilepsy surgery in childhood by completing a series of surveys. The data collected will be used to answer some of the most important questions about pediatric epilepsy surgery, such as:
What can a child do over time after epilepsy surgery?
What post-operative therapies and interventions are useful?
What are some unusual symptoms or medical issues that happen after epilepsy surgery that parents report but doctors may be unaware of?
What are the issues that concern parents?
What is the impact of epilepsy surgery on a child’s quality of life?
What surgical techniques work best and for whom?
The main purpose of the registry is to gather information that can be used to understand the developmental trajectory after epilepsy surgery. Researchers can then use the registry to analyze the information, look for changes in a child’s function over time, determine whether some surgical procedures are more effective at stopping seizures than others, recruit participants to their approved studies, and collect new information by adding new questions to the registry.
The Autism BrainNet is a campaign to understand and treat a whole spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders, such as those caused by chromosome 15q duplications.
Many of us have signed the back of our driver’s license to give permission to donate our organs after we die. We have been made aware of the importance of doing this in order to help another person, and have taken action in advance so that something good can come from our death. We generally don’t think about this kind of opportunity in regard to our children affected by a chromosome 15q duplication. Now there is a program that provides families an opportunity to donate the brain and tissue of a loved one who has just died so that researchers can access a critical resource for understanding chromosome 15q duplications.
Registering to donate brain tissue does not mean that anyone anticipates your child will die an early death. It does mean, however, that you are prepared to act if such an unexpected and tragic event were to occur. It also includes you to receive quarterly newsletter that updates you and your family on autism discoveries where brain tissue has has a significant impact.
Brain tissue recovery is coordinated nationally by the Autism BrainNet, a network of 4 research sites across the United States. You can register at www.takesbrains.org/
In the event of a death, contact the 24-hour hotline number: 1-877-333-0999 for immediate assistance. You will be put in touch directly with the local site who will make the appropriate arrangements. You must initiate the call.
All inquiries are treated with absolute confidentiality.
Although many scientists have become aware of the importance of understanding what causes the symptoms of idic(15), a major roadblock to further understanding is the absence of brain tissue. Scientists are able to be creative and work with cells from blood and brain imaging, but access to studying the impact of idic(15) on the brains of affected individuals is vital.
— Dr. Edwin Cook Jr, Dup15q Alliance Professional Advisor
The Autism Tissue Program has a world-wide network of researchers seeking to understand how and why the brains of affected individuals are different. The brain is the locus of the behaviors associated with chromosome 15q duplications (repetitive and restricted activities, lack of communication and social skills) and the seizures experienced by over half of affected individuals. Brain tissue is vital because it is the only way to see individual brain cells and read the DNA and genetic messages to get a better understanding of chromosome 15q duplications.
Brain tissue will be tremendously valuable for understanding the ways that duplication of chromosome 15 affects brain development and function, which will hopefully help us provide better treatment options for patients with dup15q syndrome. It is difficult to think about the potential death of a child. However, thinking about it in advance allows the family to discuss the issues surrounding a brain tissue donation without the incredible emotional stress that occurs when a child has died. Advance planning for a tissue donation is critical.
— Dr. Carolyn Schanen, Dup15q Alliance Professional Advisor
Organ donation is a highly personal decision that has the power to accelerate research and transform the lives of countless families affected by chromosome 15q duplications. It reflects a family’s choice to benefit others, and honors the complex and challenging life of the affected child. You can make a tremendous difference in research into chromosome 15q duplications by participating in this program.
A pathologist performs the procedure and coordinates with the funeral director. Your child is treated with the utmost respect and dignity. The procedures used to obtain brain tissue will not affect any funeral arrangements, including viewing, that you wish to make. The Autism BrainNet assumes all costs related to obtaining tissue.
Biomarkers and Cognition in Dup15q Syndrome
Children with 15q11-q13 duplications are at high risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities, particularly autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). Recently, dup15q syndrome became the focus of research in the UCLA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC). The IDDRC is an innovative, multidisciplinary center for research on the core causes of developmental disabilities. IDDRC studies are designed to lead to possible interventions to treat causes as well as improve quality of life for patients and their families.
What is the purpose of the dup15q syndrome study?
This study aims to (1) quantify EEG biomarkers of dup15q syndrome and (2) characterize cognition and development in this population, using standardized behavioral testing, play-based assessments, eye tracking, and high density EEG. The overarching goal is to find EEG biomarkers and specific behavioral features that may serve as targets for behavioral and pharmacological intervention.
The study will involve approximately 1-2 days of testing, including parent questionnaires, behavioral evaluations of the child, and an awake, high density EEG. We will provide each family with detailed written and verbal feedback on the behavioral testing.
Whom do we want to recruit for this study?
Our goal for this study is to recruit children ages 1-18 with either interstitial or isodicentric 15q11-q13 duplications.
Whom do I contact?
Families who wish to learn more about this study, please contact:
Genetic Cell Repository
CHROMOSOME 15Q11.2-13.1 DUPLICATION CELL LINES
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Human Genetic Cell Repository, Coriell Institute for Medical Research
In the study of human genetic disorders, samples from patients and their families are a critical resource for researchers, however it is often a major hurdle to identify families with specific chromosome abnormalities, like idic(15) and int dup(15). Thus many researchers rely on tissue and cell “banks” for access to samples from patients with a specific diagnosis. These samples are often in the form of a “cell line”, which are derived from a blood sample that has been specifically treated to allow the cells to be grown in culture for extended periods of time. Our lab has established cell lines for most of the samples that we have obtained for our study of chromosome 15q duplications. We would like to submit them to the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research to make them widely available to other researchers who are interested in working on chromosome 15.
The NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, New Jersey, holds the world’s largest collection of human cell lines for use in research, which includes over 10,000 cell lines representing more than 500 different genetic disorders. They maintain and distribute thousands of cell lines and DNA samples from individuals with diverse genetic disorders and make them available to researchers around the world for a nominal cost. Their collection is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and several private foundations with specific support by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. To learn more about the cell repositories at Coriell, please see their website: ccr.coriell.org.
Coriell’s repository collects biological samples and relevant clinical information from donors. All personal identifying information is removed upon arrival to the repository. In the catalog, basic information is provided to researchers ordering cell lines, including gender, race, the age of the individual when the sample was obtained, and if other family members are in the repository. However, all of the information is anonymized, meaning that there is no way for the researcher to know who the sample came from.
Families who are participating in our study can contact the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository genetic counselor, Tara Schmidlen, to authorize us to share your cells. Be sure to let her know if you are part of our study, because if we have samples that can be shared, we will send the cells to Coriell so that you do not need to have another sample of blood drawn. If families are not enrolled in our study, but would like to provide a sample for the cell repository, you can also participate in this opportunity to expand access to idic(15) and int dup(15) cell lines by contacting Tara. Families living outside of the United States are also welcome to donate a sample to the repository. All interested families will need to sign the Coriell consent forms in order to have their samples in the repository. These forms are being generated and will be available from Tara Schmidlen.
Tara J. Schmidlen, MS, CGC
Certified Genetic Counselor
NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository
Coriell Institute for Medical Research
403 Haddon Avenue
Camden, NJ 08103
We are collecting data and tracking the development and care of families affected by dup15q, including diagnostics, medications, how meds are working, how other treatments are working, getting full picture of dup15q syndrome.
We are piloting a program where families can upload their clinical EEGs and/or MRIs to keep on file. This service will serve as a central location where you can store your information for future use, such as sending them to specialists, second opinions etc. The ultimate goal will be to look at EEGs over time and see if we can pinpoint early markers for seizure risk or brain function changes that are related to behavior.
Upload your EEG/MRI to the LADDER Database. Don’t have an account with LADDER? Register Here
Don’t have a copy of your child’s EEG or MRI? Here is a sample letter/email to send to your doctors office to obtain copies of research.
My child is a patient of yours and as you know we are part of a large dup15q community dedicated to understanding characteristics of dup15q syndrome. In order to help understand the syndrome better, the Dup15q Alliance (patient advocacy group) is supporting a research study that can put our son/daughter’s EEG to be compared with other kids with the syndrome. Additionally, this research study also investigates overnight sleep EEGs in Dup15q children, to better inform sleep disturbances. In order for us to participate in this study, we need a copy of our child’s EEG recording. This can be a few minutes of clinical EEG recording and/or overnight sleep EEG recording, whichever was collected at your clinic during our visit. Along with EEG, any other relevant medical information collected during the visit would be great to have. It will be great if you could let us know of any paperwork involved to get this process started. We are very eager to participate in this research study and very much appreciate your help in sending us the recordings and medical information collected during our visit.