More than 300,000 children and youth in Ontario suffer from autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The symptoms of these disorders – anxiety, depression, compulsive activity, social isolation, to name just a few – exact a huge emotional cost on children and their families. In addition, there are also added costs to society: lost productivity and potential, plus life-time bills to the medical system. The Ontario Brain Institute challenged neuroscientists across the province to come up with a new approach to addressing neurodevelopmental disorders, in the context of an Integrated Discovery Program. The Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders Network (POND) program is a research program designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental diseases.
The POND program’s mandate is to ensure that discoveries are transformed into new diagnostics, treatments and improved clinical practice. This collaborative initiative will enable the translation of new treatments for children and youth with neurodevelopmental disorders by embedding a clinical trial network within a patient registry. It will also accelerate the development of new treatments for children suffering from any of the disorders.
The aim is to increase our understanding of the complexity of these neurodevelopmental disorders, how they are linked, and how this knowledge could be the key to the discovery of future therapies. The investigators in the POND program are involved in studying neurodevelopmental disorders from a wide range of viewpoints, including genomics, imaging, clinical drug therapy and behaviour. They are looking for the best combination of these tests to provide a profile that successfully identifies the correct treatment for each individual.
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