Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Clinical Corner – Spring 2015

New Research Looks at Potential Genetic Causes of Autism

Tech & Science News, Published by Newsweek. By Paul Mejia

Although genetics have long been thought to influence autism, researchers have struggled to concretely link individual genes with the condition, as many children who develop it have parents who did not.

Now, two landmark studies recently published in Nature reported researchers working together in over 50 laboratories across the globe discovered dozens of sets of genes (and genetic mutations) that are closely connected to- and may even be able to form the basis of new treatments for – the development of autism.

The new research claims 60 of the approximately 100 recently identified genes are within a “high-confidence” threshold – meaning that mutations in those genes are 90 percent likely to be tied to autism risk. Previously, only nine genes had been linked to autism with high confidence, according to a 2013 student published in Cell.

Researchers working on both studies attribute their success to the fact they were able to read the “letters” in DNA code at much high speeds than predecessors, thanks to advances in next generation sequencing. They said the newfound development of global initiatives is also allowing scientists worldwide to work more closely on pioneering autism-related research.

To read the entire Spring 2015 edition of The Autism Beacon click here.

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