Monday, April 30, 2012

Desperately Seeking Autism Genes

Autism is incredibly frustrating from a genetic point of view. Every study clearly shows that genetics plays an important role in this disease. But when these studies try to find a cause, they keep coming up short. And this isn’t because scientists aren’t trying hard. They are. In most of the recent studies they are comparing thousands of people’s DNA at millions of different spots. If there was a simple explanation, they would have found it. One thing they have managed to find from all of these studies is that a minority of cases result frombrand new mutations that most likely happen in either the sperm or the egg before fertilization. While these are not going to be that useful as a diagnostic test, they may prove useful as a way of figuring out which genes to focus on. And maybe even for coming up with new ways to treat autism.

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