The Australian Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Research Group, based at the RRI under the leadership of Emeritus Professor Alastair MacLennan and Professor Jozef Gecz, recently established the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium (ICPGC), which held its first meeting this week in Adelaide.
Alastair and Jozef’s group leads the field in demonstrating that cerebral palsy often has genetic origins. The group has developed a large DNA biobank from cerebral palsy families linked to de-identified pregnancy details and phenotype. Using next generation sequencing technologies the RRI group has detected many likely causative genetic variants in its cohort.
As several other genomics or neurodevelopmental disorder centres around the world are beginning to conduct similar research, the Adelaide group has had the initiative to foster collaboration rather than competition between these research groups. To that effect, researchers representing the key, active CP genomics groups from around the world, as well as CP representatives from around Australia met in Adelaide this March and agreed to form the International Cerebral Palsy Genomics Consortium to foster collaborative research and to set up the world’s first genomics database (register) of cerebral palsy (Single Nucleotide Variants, Copy Number Variants, epigenetic markers, RNA sequencing, etc.) linked with clinical details.
Such a ‘register’ is a must, given that cerebral palsy is emerging to be highly genetically heterogeneous, similar in nature to autisms or intellectual disabilities. Large numbers of well, genetically and clinically, characterised cases will facilitate identification of common neurodevelopmental pathways, probable environmental triggers and eventually clinical trials for better management and treatment of CP.
The Adelaide Group is funded by the NHMRC, The Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation and The Tenix Foundation. The Robinson Research Institute and The Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Sydney helped facilitate the formation of the ICPGC.
Above is a photo of the Members of the new International Consortium who visited from China, Canada, USA, Sweden, Turkey, Spain and many Australian Universities on the lawns of the Urrbrae House, where the workshop was held.