Could a Missing Gene Cluster Be the Cause of Autism?


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New York researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory think they may have found an important link between our genetic makeup and what causes autism. I won’t pretend to understand gene clusters but allegedly it was hypothesized that people with autism are missing one of the two clusters or only possess one and part of a 27-gene grouping.

genes

While this theory hasn’t been proven yet, it is certainly a promising looking one since Dr. Alea Mills, has been able to prove that the missing gene cluster “not only plays a role in the condition but also may affect head size, certain behaviors and the shape of structures within the brain itself” according to the article “Gene cluster is missing in children with autism, researchers say“. And since head circumference – typically larger in children with autism – has been linked with autism, this makes the idea that this missing cluster plays a role even more probable.

To try to prove the theory, the scientists cut this gene cluster out of mice and were able to alter the brains of the mice by doing so. This caused a change in behavior in the mice that relates to the behavioral differences in people with autism.

We may still be far from finding a cause and ultimately a cure but these small steps are a little bit of hope in an otherwise complicated and seemingly daunting mission to fully understand autism.

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