New clue to a baffling illness – Autism

New clue to a baffling illness – Autism – Brief Article

Julie Adams

The chromosomal key to autism, one of the most enigmatic mental disorders, is slowly coming into focus. The latest research, conducted by the international Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium at Oxford University in England, links the disorder with four chromosomal regions and confirms that more than one gene is involved. “The strongest finding was on chromosome 2, where genome-wide statistical significance has been reached, indicating that this is the location of a gene contributing to autism,” says researcher Anthony Monaco, M.D., director of Neurogenetics Group at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, England. The research was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Monaco and his colleagues examined the DNA of 152 pairs of siblings with autism. “If we knew the actual genes responsible for autism, we could screen newborns for the disorder. This could lead to new medical insights and treatments,” says Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., research director at the University of Washington and National Institutes of Health Collaborative Program for Excellence in Autism.

Genetics research involves two stages. First, researchers determine whether a trait is linked to a specific part of a chromosome. Then they search for the culprit gene. “Autism researchers are still trying to pin down regions on chromosomes,” says Dawson.

Contact the Autism Treatment Center of America (www.son-rise.org) for information about treatment programs.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

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