An autism gene study has yielded breakthrough results this week which may help scientists better understand the cause of the disorder. DNA experts have managed to locate 60 genes that have a very high chance of increasing the risk of the disorder in children. According to the Telegraph News this Friday, October 31, 2014, there are believed to be a total of 33 genetic variants which may be connected with autism.
Although the neurodevelopmental disorder known for causing compromised social skills still has unsolved questions surrounding it, an autism gene study recently published in the scholarly journal “Nature” sheds new light on this case. Scientists have successfully been able to locate a total of 60 genes that have over a 90% odds of raising a child’s risk of developing autism. In the past, only 11 genes were known with such a degree of conviction, so this DNA finding is believed to be a breakthrough discovery.
Medical experts believe that there are many other genes potentially linked to autism, but more time will be needed to determine their connection. According to Dr. Alexander Kolevzon, a pediatrics and psychology professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, the disorder results when these specific genes are mutated in their biological production.
“When those genes are mutated, the communication between brain cells is severely affected such that even the basic process of learning and memory is disrupted,” he said.
News Oxy offers some updated details on this interesting report. As mentioned in the autism gene research article, it is speculated that differing mutations can cause different types of autism. One form of the disorder is found in highly intelligent, high-functioning males, while another DNA study discovered that a separate set can lead to autistic boys and girls with significantly lower IQ levels. Notes a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researcher, “There’s somewhat of a mechanism difference in the genes that are being hit and the way that gene function is being changed.” Experts hope to further explore this difference in upcoming studies, based on the knowledge they have already obtained on these 60 influential genes.
Obtaining this breakthrough finding on autism was no easy or slow task. The gene investigation was predicated on over 14,000 distinct DNA samples from parents and children with the disorder. Unaffected individuals were also part of the scientific examination, while Dr. Kolevzon noted the discovery of these genes and their mutations offers hope for future treatments.
“When you identify a gene in autism and you know what that gene function is and you know exactly how the protein affects brain cell connections, for example, you can start thinking about specific treatments biological treatments that can potentially reverse the deficits associated with that genetic mutation.”
Autism is known to have a very strong basis in genetics. Approximately one in 68 children, or 1.5% of children are diagnosed with this disorder as of the 2014 year. In some cases, autism is linked with agents that can cause other mental birth defects. The controversy of an autistic culture remains pervasive in U.S. society, with some believing that a cure should be found for autism as soon as possible, while others argue that we should simply accept these differences and not categorize it as a neurodevelopmental disorder at all.