Scientists find more genetic clues related to Autism

    Researchers say they are inching closer to solving the autism puzzle. An international team of scientists has discovered more genetic clues
    to this developmental disorder.

    Researchers say they are inching closer to solving the autism puzzle. An international team of scientists has discovered more genetic clues
    to this developmental disorder.

    In phase two of the international Autism Genome Project, which is funded by the advocacy organization “Autism Speaks”, researchers
    compared genetic data from one-thousand people with Autism to their peers who do not have Autism.

    Building on findings from the previous year, they identified additional genes in people with autism that had variations – such as mutations, deletions and duplications in the genetic code. Dr. Hakon Hakonarson is director of the center for applied genomics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and participated in this research. He says while each genetic variation found is rare, the variations tend to affect the same groups of genes: those responsible for sending messages between nerve cells. Hakonarson says in grouping the findings together, a clearer picture of the genetic causes of autism is emerging:

    Hakonarson: “We are now starting to be able to explain maybe 20 percent of Autism with all these rare findings, and the key here will be to understand the networks that they represent so you can come in and generate a therapy to fix the consequences of these variations.”

    Hakonarson says it will take years before the genetic findings will lead to actual therapies. The Autism Genome Project consists of 120 scientists from more than 60 institutions representing 11 countries.

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