New Genetic Clues to Autism Found
2 New Gene Mutations Linked to Autism
Tracking Autism Genes: Implications
While there is no immediate application of the discovery for parents,
Notterman says the new research suggests that ''science is probably on the
right track over the next decade to understand much more about the basic
biology of autism.''
The recurring theme recently, he says, is the finding of structural
variations in the DNA that cause mutations in the genes affecting the
The new findings reflect the complexity of the origin of autism, says Daniel
Coury, MD, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide
Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and medical director of the Autism
Treatment Network, a consortium of 14 U.S. and Canadian sites focused on
''There was the popular belief that we were going to find 'the gene,'" says
Coury, who reviewed the study results for WebMD.
''That got expanded," he says, as ongoing research turned up several more
genetic mutations associated with autism.
The recent research also suggests that genetic mutations don't seem to
affect everyone equally, he says. "One of the things that was interesting," he
says, "is they are seeing variations, where there are less complete [genetic]
deletions in some people than in others."
Some families, he says, appear to be at greater genetic risk due to small
changes in the mutations that might change how a gene is expressed. That, in
turn, could affect the severity of the autism features and symptoms, he
While the study adds to the evidence of a genetic basis for autism, the
possibility of environmental triggers is still present, Coury says. "The
research is further confirmation that autism is probably caused by an
interplay of genetics and environmental factors."