Our Research in CANDY
In Europe, 10-15% of children and adults or 50 to 75 million individuals are affected by neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intellectual disability (ID), motor problems and language disorders.
It is not hard to imagine that one of these conditions alone can have a serious impact on a person’s life. What makes the situation even worse is the fact that several of these condition often occur together and on top of that, go along with somatic illnesses, such as epilepsy, (auto-)immune and gastrointestinal diseases, motor problems, and visual and auditory impairments, whereby epilepsy is the most common co-occurring illness. This significantly affects a person’s length and quality of life and there are no effective treatments to date. The reason why some people are affected by several neurodevelopmental conditions and/or somatic illnesses and others not, is still unclear.
Recent insights into the mechanisms underpinning neurodevelopmental conditions offer new opportunities to create a breakthrough. There is compelling evidence that many rare genetic variants increasing the risk for autism, ADHD, and ID are shared and converge on relatively few final biological pathways.
Another important key role is likely played by immune dysregulation. CANDY’s innovation is to test, for the first time, if co-existing neurodevelopmental conditions and somatic diseases (such as epilepsy), are caused by a combination of common and rare genetic variants and immune activation acting at different ‘sensitive periods’. Early maternal immune activation, in particular, is a shared environmental risk factor across neurodevelopmental conditions. This effect varies depending on the interactions between genetic and other environmental factors, such as nutrition and stress.
Further information can be found in the links below.