SalfordFASD welcomes Human Genetics expert Dr Arijit Mukhopadhyay to the team to help us tackle important research on the detection of prenatal alcohol exposure.  

The identification of FASD is limited by an inability to confirm alcohol exposure during the pregnancy. By the time a child is experiencing significant difficulties, often when they are in upper primary / lower secondary education, it can be difficult to get information on maternal drinking, especially if the child no longer lives with their birth family.

This contributes significantly to the lack of confirmed diagnoses of FASD, despite the fact that FASD is relatively common. To meet this unmet need, we are expanding our expertise into the laboratory sciences, with the aim of identifying a non-invasive biomarker for FASD. 

Arijit is an associate professor in Precision Health in the School of Science, Engineering and Environment at the University of Salford. He possesses over 23 years of research experience and has a keen interest in exploring the role of extracellular noncoding RNA in human diseases.  

Our vision is to develop a proof-of-principle dataset of using small molecules (microRNA) as possible biomarkers for FASD. We will focus on a specific subset of microRNAs known for its importance in foetal brain development and for its importance as biomarkers in various human diseases, including cancers.  

Arijit will be the lead research on this project. He has a significant track record on microRNAs as biomarkers in different human diseases (see below). Upon successful completion of the pilot project, we plan to expand this initiative to a national level where a longitudinal study will be planned. Dr Mukhopadhyay says “We are really excited to be given the opportunity to develop a potential biomarker for alcohol exposure in pregnancy. If this pilot phase goes well, we plan to take this initiative to a national level and carry out a longitudinal study”. 

Prof. Penny Cook who leads the SalfordFASD says “A biomarker for alcohol exposure in pregnancy would be a game-changer for diagnosing FASD. We are thrilled that our very own Salford expert, Dr Arijit Mukhopadhyay, is willing to lead this exciting new strand of our research”. 

Along with our team member Professor Raja Mukherjee (Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust), other project partners include Dr Nigel Brissett from the University of Brighton, Dr Neil Aiton, Consultant Neonatologist (University Hospitals Sussex) and NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care.