Researchers find genetic marker for autism

Reply Tue 28 Apr, 2009 11:48 am
Do you think people who would not vaccinate their children because they believed it led to autism will change their minds?

Do you think they'll develop some kind of fetal testing that will determine whether a particular baby will develop autism?

Do you think they'll find a way to repair the "genetic pathway responsible for neurological development, learning, and memory"?

What do you think this discovery will change?

A team of Philadelphia researchers that included geneticists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said Tuesday they have identified what they believe to be the first common genetic risk factors for autism and autism spectrum disorders.

The researchers, in two studies, detected variations along a genetic pathway that is responsible for neurological development, learning and memory " which appears to play a significant role in the genetic risk of autism.

Their findings, published online in the journal Nature on Tuesday, suggest there is a strong genetic component increasing the likelihood of an autism diagnosis, which afflicts one in 150 children in the United States.

“We studied more than 10, 000 children " of whom more than 4,500 had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder " and found a common genetic variation that increases the risk of a child developing autism, along with a rarer genetic change that contributes to some cases of autism,” said Gerald Schellenberg, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and co-senior author of the study report. “This work yields important clues on what goes awry during development in children with autism and will help us focus on what is the cause of autism at a molecular level.”

The researchers found a particular genetic variation, found on a cluster between CDH10 and CDH9, is commonly found in children with autism.

“Because other autism researchers have made intriguing suggestions that autism arises from abnormal connections among brain cells during early development, it is very compelling to find evidence that mutations in genes involved in brain interconnections increase a child’s risk of autism,” said study leader Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Reply Tue 28 Apr, 2009 12:07 pm
I read an interesting article a while back, the author, a woman who has autism believes it is a completely normal genetic mutation, the human bodies way to deal with stress overload. That being said, this makes sense, the whole inoculation theory should be dead buy now, as it has been completely and throughly debunked.
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Reply Tue 28 Apr, 2009 04:37 pm
I disagree. I don't think this research will have any effect on the concept of autism being induced by vaccination in some cases. Genetics may account for predisposing factors as well as direct causal factors. In the case of predisposition, vaccination or casual infection may be the precipitating trigger for the genetic gun.
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Reply Tue 28 Apr, 2009 04:45 pm
I am not sure that the anti-vaccine folk are susceptible to science-based arguments.

I would assume that, at some stage, there will be some kind of in-utero test for autism-specttrum disorders...or genetic testing for risk, perhaps?

Gene repair? Who knows. I think it very hard to predict when that will come online in a really practical way.

It's gonna be another abortion dilemma for people, if an in utero test comes into use, I guess.

Disability from autism spectrum disorders ranges from none really, if you are a happy slightly different person, especially if you have talents, to profound.
Reply Tue 28 Apr, 2009 05:48 pm
Disability from autism spectrum disorders ranges from none really, if you are a happy slightly different person, especially if you have talents, to profound.
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Reply Wed 29 Apr, 2009 11:31 am
Interesting! I've had an extra-busy few days, didn't see this until now.

I'm glad it's out there, but tend to agree with dlowan re: the persuadability of anti-vaccine folk.
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Reply Wed 29 Apr, 2009 03:30 pm
I think it's important to note that the genetics PREDISPOSE a person to autism. Genes still need to be flipped on in most cases by other factors. I hope they can come up with a range of treatments for those who want them.
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Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 12:55 pm
Well, I am susceptible to science based arguments and I think that a link between vaccines and autism has been neither proven nor debunked. While the discovery of a genetic marker is certainly an interesting development, it may just mean something along the lines of what fresco said.

Autism being a normal genetic mutation is an interesting hypothesis, though, and would certainly explain the increasing numbers in cases.
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