While the geneticunderpinnings of autism are enormously complex, new DNA research is honing in on sets of abnormal genes that may play a role in the disorder. In all, about 800 CNVs were identified as exclusive to autistic children. In addition, the CNVs in question tended to be found in genes central to the impaired biological functions that show up in autistic behavior, such as those involving synapse function, nerve cell communication, and brain development, the CHOP researchers said. "This suggested to us that there may be many different -- possibly even hundreds -- of genetic paths to autism, with only a few gene alterations relevant to each individual patient," White said. "But if those hundreds of genes have similar roles in the nervous system, the end result may lead to the same diagnosis: an autism spectrum disorder."
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