Autism Speaks, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced that Sumner M. Redstone has donated $500,000 as a lead gift to support Autism Speaks' Translational Research Initiative, an effort to accelerate the discovery of treatments for autism, including pharmacological therapies. This most recent gift brings Mr. Redstone's total commitment to Autism Speaks to $1.7 million.
“I'm pleased to continue my support of the groundbreaking work being done by Autism Speaks,” said Mr. Redstone. “My hope is that this leadership gift will inspire others to join me in support of the translational research initiative, which is enormously important and has the potential to provide solutions to families affected by autism.” Mr. Redstone is Executive Chairman of Viacom Inc. and CBS Corporation, and Chairman and CEO of National Amusements Inc.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an average of one in every 110 American children—including one in 70 boys—and "there's no evidence that this dramatic rise in autism is slowing," says Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks.
Children, adolescents and adults with autism suffer with difficulties in the areas of social interaction, communication and learning, and other kinds of medical problems like sleep disorders and seizures.
The core of the current research conducted by Autism Speaks focuses on translating the basic biology that researchers have learned about autism into new methods of diagnosis or treatment. The science suggests that even though autism has many different genetic and environmental causes, their effects may converge on a set of common pathways in the brain.
"For the first time we have the possibility of developing medicines that could help to restore the function of these pathways," says Dr. Dawson. Ultimately these medicines would help to reduce the core symptoms of autism.