Genetic Mapping Offers Promise of Autism Treatment

Photo by Ynse/Flickr

Recent genetic studies are bringing scientists closer to developing a cure for autism, as well as, allowing them to diagnosis autism cases much earlierDalila Pinto, a Rubicon winner, discovered that there is a DNA copying error in a large number of the patients that were involved in her study.  These trial subjects had segments of their DNA that were copied too often or in fact missed out on the copying entirely.

This international project called the “Autism Genome Project,” included a sample of 1000 autism patients and their families.  Included in the study were families in which the parents did not suffer from autism, whereas the child may have.  The findings of this study are truly remarkable because they seem to have found the root cause of autism development.

As mentioned earlier, the results of the study have shown that autism in these patients is the result of “broken” genes.  These genes are the result of incorrect copying.  Every new cell requires a new copy of DNA.  As cells within our body continually come and go, the DNA must continue to replicate itself as well.  This can go for anybody at any time, not just those individuals who have autism.  A portion of the DNA structure is then copied too often or it misses out on the copying process.  The research shows that this copying error occurs much more frequently in autism patients.

Researchers have been able to pinpoint these autism genes that play a significant role in biological function, specifically the brain.  Now that these genes have been identified and are actually comparable to other genes that play a role in other treatable conditions like learning disabilities, scientists can work on new angles and approaches towards treating individuals autism.


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