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Development and Investigation of mouse models of deep brain stimulation for self-injurious behaviours in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Principal Investigator:
  • Flavia Venetucci Gouveia, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute
  • Shireen & Edna Marcus Foundation

Project Overview

Shireen and Edna Marcus Excellence Award

There is a pressing unmet need to develop novel therapies for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and self-injurious behaviours (SIB). Up to half of children with ASD manifest SIB, which is associated with significant morbidity and mortality with few effective treatment options. Given advances in the understanding of the neural circuitry underlying SIB, there are meaningful opportunities to develop neuromodulation strategies targeting abnormal brain networks to improve SIB symptoms. Through partnerships with the advanced animal facilities located at the Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics (TCP), and cutting-edge mouse imaging resources at the Mouse Imaging Centre (MICe), we have developed novel translational models of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for SIB. This work will yield clinically-relevant mechanistic understandings of SIB-related brain circuitry by studying behavioural data, histological markers and brain magnetic resonance imaging from a translational mouse model of ASD and SIB. This knowledge can be translated to the clinical practice to improve patient outcome, especially as a parallel to the an ongoing Health Canada-monitored clinical trial at SickKids investigating DBS for ASD-SIB in children.