Decoding Autism: Study finds DNA clues to developmental disorders

12:49pm, February 21, 2007

New results from the largest study of its kind direct the search for autism-influencing genes to a previously overlooked DNA segment and highlight the role of a crucial chemical-messenger system in creating brains susceptible to autism.

Genetic analyses of 1,168 families, each containing two or more persons with autism or a related condition, indicate that as-yet-unidentified genes on part of chromosome 11 often contribute to the developmental disorders. A group of more than 120 scientists in 19 countries report the findings online and in the March Nature Genetics. Previous studies of fewer people with autism (SN: 10/21/06, p. 259: Autism's DNA Trail: Gene variant tied to developmental disorder) had identified a potential autism gene but missed the genetic link to chromosome 11.

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