Study Autistic Kids Often Have Unique Gene Mutations

06.10.10 |

A genetic scan of a thousand kids with autism yielded the astonishing find that many have a pattern of genetic mutations as unique as fingerprints. The findings confirm that autism does have its origins in human DNA. But the results offer the new twist that the disorder isn't necessarily inherited. UCLA scientist Daniel Geschwind said the problems could be stemming from "tiny genetic errors" in human eggs and sperm. He added, quote, "The autistic child is the first in their family to carry that variant. The parents do not have it."

 Researchers joined the Autism Genome Project from 60 institutions in a dozen countries in the hopes of finding better methods of diagnosing and treating the brain disorder. The project looked at the genome of a thousand autistic patients and compared them to the genomes of 12-hundred people without the disorder. The genome maps revealed that autistic patients had more chunks of missing DNA or duplications that can interfere with how the genes work. Stanley Nelson of UCLA said, quote, "Here's where it gets tricky; every child showed a different disturbance in a different gene." The study didn't reveal how the mutations occur. The findings are published in the journal "Nature."