Tags: autism | gene | social

Gene Defect Tied to Autism

Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012 03:08 PM


Scientists have discovered a defective gene causes brain changes that lead to the anti-social behavior characteristic of autism – a finding they said could speed the development of new drugs to treat the condition.
Researchers with the University of California-Davis Health System’s MIND Institute noted past research has found that the gene – known as pten – is defective in children with autism, but its effect on brain cells was not known.
Until now.
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The California researchers, writing in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, said studies in mice show that abnormal action of just this one gene disrupted brain cells functions associated with the characteristic anti-social and repetitive behavioral traits found in autism. Although the work involved mice, researchers said the findings have significant implications for people, as well.
"A number of genes and environmental factors have been shown to be involved in autism, but this study points to a mechanism – how one gene defect may trigger this type of neurological behavior," said lead researcher Cecilia Giulivi, a researcher with the UC Davis MIND Institute. "Once you understand the mechanism, that opens the way for developing drugs to treat the condition."
The defective pten gene appears to disrupt brain cells’ use of energy, Giulivi said, the critical process that relies on the cell's molecular energy factories called mitochondria.
Pten mutations have been linked to Alzheimer's disease and other mental health disorders.
The study was funded, in part, by the Autism Speaks Foundation and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
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Scientists have discovered a defective gene linked to the anti-social behavior seen in autism.
autism,gene,social
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2012-08-14
Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012 03:08 PM
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