Autism News

Found this atricle about a new autism gene that has been discovered. Looks like it could bring us one step closer to a reason for autism which could possibly lead to a cure. Anyway, I thought it was interesting...and worthy of a quick read.
Mutated gene raises autism risk, US study finds By Maggie Fox, Healthand Science EditorMon Oct 16, 6:06 PM ETWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. researchers said on Monday they had identified a genetic mutation that raises the risk of autism andcould also explain some of the other symptoms seen in children withautism. Although autism and similar disorders can clearly run in families, theirs is the first study to find a definitive genetic link to the disorder, which affects as many as 1 in 175 U.S. children.Dr. Pat Levitt and colleagues at Vanderbilt University in Nashville,Tennessee, studied 743 families in which 1,200 family members were affected by autism spectrum disorders, which range from fully disabling autism to Asperger's syndrome.They found a single mutation in a gene called MET, which is known tobe involved in brain development, regulation of the immune system and repair of the gastrointestinal system. All of these systems can beaffected in children with autism."This is a vulnerability gene," Levitt said in a telephone interview. "There are not genes that actually cause autism. It raises the risk."People with two copies of the mutated gene have 2 to 2.5 times the normal risk of autism and people with one mutated copy have 1.7 times the risk, he said. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the NationalAcademy of Sciences, offer a way to start looking for the actualcauses of autism, Levitt said. Autism can cause a range of symptoms, from fairly mild socialdysfunction to severe and disabling learning and social impairments. Researchers knew it could run in families, but the cause has been unknown. Children are usually diagnosed as toddlers, with parentsoften describing a sudden regression in abilities and behavior. There is no known cure. Levitt said the mutation does not change the function of the gene,but changes gene expression -- how active the gene is. Levitt says his team will now try to make a rat or a mouse with thesame genetic mutation and use it to study what in the environment might cause autism in people with the mutation."It may be more than one thing," Levitt said."Let's say it is exposure to some chemical. It is a long list of everything from food additives to mercury to fertilizers. This will help."

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