It has long been suspected that genetics is related to the cause of autism, but researchers have had difficulty linking individual genes with autism since many children who develop autism have parents who did not. But two recent landmark studies report that dozens of sets of genes are very closely connected to the development of autism.
Discovery Of Genes Tied To Autism Risk
The new research which was recently published in Nature, reports that 60 of the roughly 100 identified genes fall within a “high confidence” threshold. This means that mutations in these genes have a likelihood of 90% to be tied to the autism risk. Before this finding, just 9 genes were found to be linked to autism with high confidence. The study involved collaboration by researchers from over 50 labs across the world.
One Study Finds Gene Mutations
The first study involved DNA samples of over 3,000 families with one child who had autism, their unaffected siblings and one or both parents who had no indication of autism. The researchers compared the genes within the families to find which genes were mutated and which ones were not. The study found that at least 30% of the autism diagnoses were caused by genetic mutations.
Another Study Finds New Genes Associated With Autism
The second study discovered 24 new genes that are linked with autism and over 70 other genes that are “likely” related to autism. The 24 autism-linked genes involve critical brain functions that affect how nerve networks are formed and how they alter synapses, which are conduits for communication between brain cells.
The researchers also identified several rare and slight genetic differences that were responsible for a significant increase in a person’s risk for developing autism.
Advances In Sequencing Helped Researchers
The researchers credited some of the success in their findings to advances in next-generation sequencing. These advances allow the DNA code to be read at higher speeds than in the past. This, along with the new development of global initiatives, allowed research teams worldwide to work closely together on the research.
The Hope For The Future
What’s in store for the future? Normally there is one unaffected copy of a gene remaining since just one of two copies need to be mutated to develop autism. In the future, scientists might have the ability to manipulate the good copy in attempts to restore cognitive function.
The researchers say that their next step is to dissect the individual genetic mutations to allow more effective autism treatments to become available. The hope is that tracing genetic mutations will enable earlier interventions so that children with autism can gain access to behavioral therapies.
Individual Treatment Is Important
Creating Brighter Futures understands that children benefit and flourish in a comfortable and positive environment. At CBF we offer customized ABA autism treatment for children in our unique family-based Autism treatment center. Our experienced staff is ready to assist your family in learning about the therapy and support we offer. Call us today at 734-926-0740 for a tour and consultation to see if Creating Brighter Futures is the right choice for you.