Scientists have found that the condition of 70 genes that reveal autism is closely related
- American scientists examined the DNA of 150,000 people, 20,000 of whom had autism
- They identified biological changes in the brain that cause autism
- Their 70 genetic variants could lead to new tests and treatments
Scientists have found dozens of genes linked to autism, which could be a breakthrough.
Scientists hope the more than 70 newly identified genetic variants will lead to new tests and treatments for the disease.
Autism and related conditions such as Asperger’s affect more than one in 100 British children and 70 American youngsters – ten times more than 30 years ago.
Despite the increase, the condition is still poorly understood, and getting a diagnosis can be long and stressful for patients and their families.
Families often have to visit multiple hospitals and undergo multiple psychological tests for their children.
Although medication can be given to control symptoms such as aggression or hyperactivity, it cannot be cured.
In the largest study of its kind, US scientists looked at the DNA of 150,000 participants, 20,000 of whom had been diagnosed with autism.
They identified 72 genes that were “very strongly” linked to the condition and hundreds of other genes.
Scientists are one step closer to solving the mystery after discovering more than a hundred new genes linked to autism
The latest study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, hopes to help future research teams narrow their focus.
“We know that when many genes are mutated, they contribute to autism,” said study co-author Joseph Buchsbaum, director of the Seaver Center for Autism Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai in New York.
“In this unprecedented study, we were able to combine several types of mutations in many samples to gain a broader understanding of the genes and genetic architecture involved in autism.
“This is important because we now have a greater understanding of the changes in brain biology that underlie autism and more potential targets for treatment.”
He says a “precision medicine approach” to autism based on a person’s genes will be needed.
People need to be genetically tested for autism to help develop new drugs that “benefit families and individuals at risk for autism spectrum disorder,” Dr. Buchsbaum said.
“The more we can advance therapeutics based on the targets identified in these genetic findings, the more likely we are to help more people, which will have a significant impact on the fight against autism and developmental delays worldwide,” he added.
His team combined data from autism research initiatives such as the Autism Sequencing Consortium, as well as MIT and Harvard.
They looked at the genomes of nearly 150,000 people, 20,627 of whom had autism.
In addition to the 72 genes behind autism, they discovered another 250 genes that are also linked to the disorder.
What are the symptoms of autism?
Symptoms of autism in young children include:
- He does not respond to their names
- Avoiding eye contact
- Smile when you smile at them
- They get very upset if they don’t like a certain taste, smell or sound
- Repetitive movements, such as flapping your hands, shaking your fingers, or rocking your body
- He does not talk as much as other children
- Repeating the same phrases
Symptoms of autism in older children include::
- He does not understand what others are thinking and feeling
- It is difficult to express their feelings
- Likes a strict routine and is very upset when it changes
- A strong interest in certain subjects or activities
- If you demand something from them, they will be very upset
- Has difficulty making friends or prefers to be alone
- Taking things too literally – for example, they may not understand expressions like ‘break a leg’
Common symptoms of autism in adults include:
- Difficulty understanding what others are thinking or feeling
- Extreme anxiety in social situations
- Difficulty making friends or preferring to be alone
- Being impolite, rude, or uninterested in others
- It’s hard to say how you feel
- Taking things literally – for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like ‘break a leg’.
- Having the same routine every day and worrying if it changes