Autism’s links with genes discovered

World’s largest genetic study into autism finds many more genes involved in the condition

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Scientists have identified a link between autism and DNA, reports the Independent.

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Researchers looked at the genomes of nearly 1,000 children with autism, and those children’s DNA was compared to the DNA of more than 1,200 people without autism. A series of differences between the two groups were found.

The scientists say they may end up finding up to 300 genes involved, reports the BBC. Until this point, just eight or nine genes were understood to play a part in the condition.

This breakthrough could possibly help develop new drugs to lessen some of the symptoms of autism, said one of the researchers from Oxford University, Professor Tony Monaco. Also, it could prove to be a step towards a test to identify autism at an earlier age, though this is still a long way off.

The National Autistic Society’s Dr Gina Gomez de la Cuesta told the BBC, “This study furthers our understanding of genetic variation in autism, however there is a great deal more research to be done. Research into autism is constantly evolving but the exact causes are as yet still unknown.

“The difficulty of establishing gene involvement is compounded by the interaction of genes with the environment. Genetic testing for autism is still a long way off, given that autism is so complex.

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“Whilst it is very important that research continues, it is also crucial that those living with the condition have access to appropriate advice and information, as the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.”

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