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Autism Gene Sequencing Studies Reveal New Data on Potential Causes

Image: Autism Gene Sequencing Studies Reveal New Data on Potential Causes
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By    |   Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 02:08 PM

Genes that may cause autism were recently discovered by the dozens, bringing humanity one step closer to better understanding the spectrum disorder and its causes.

According to NPR News, 50 laboratories published a series of studies on their findings on Tuesday in the journal Nature. Altogether, more than 100 genes mutated in children with autism were identified by the researchers.

Of those, 60 of the gene mutations met a "high-confidence" threshold for links to autism, meaning they had a 90 percent or greater chance of increasing autism risk. Before the new studies, few identified genes had met the threshold.

"That we now have a bounty of dozens of genes, and a clear path forward to find perhaps hundreds more, provides an incredible foundation for understanding the biology of autism and finding new treatments," said Dr. Matthew W. State, a researcher and psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Notably, a majority of the mutations identified are "de novo" (Latin for "afresh") mutations. That means the genes aren't present in parents of autistic children, but arise spontaneously in either a sperm or egg cell.

"This is going to begin to give us an opportunity to study the interactions between genes and environment," State said. "The rate of new mutation increases with age, specifically fathers, because a lot of these mutations are in sperm."

Because autism disorders appear to be more likely boys than girls, some of the gene sequencing may lay the foundations for finding out what underlies the difference. Thus far, some researcher hypothesize that environmental factors involving fertilized embryos may hold the answer.

Thousands of people's genes were sequenced between the studies, helping to determine which gene mutations were and were not inherited.

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Genes that may cause autism were recently discovered by the dozens, bringing humanity one step closer to better understanding the spectrum disorder and its causes.
autism, gene, studies, data
287
2014-08-30
Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 02:08 PM
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