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Preliminary results of largest scan of autism DNA information

on of these two approaches implicates a previously unidentified region of chromosome 11 and neurexin 1, a member of a gene family believed to be important in contact and communication between neurons, among other regions and genes in the genome. The neurexin finding, in particular, highlights a special group of neurons, called glutamate neurons, and the genes affecting their development and function, suggesting they play a critical role in autism spectrum disorders.

"By combining cutting-edge CNV analysis with the more traditional linkage and association [analyses], the scientists now have a promising new experimental framework to look for autism susceptibility genes," said Andy Shih, Autism Speaks chief science officer. "These exciting findings from the AGP linkage scan confirm the value and contribution of multidisciplinary collaboration to advancing autism research."

The AGP consortium believes the identification of susceptibility genes will provide profound new insight into the basis of autism, offering a route to breakthroughs in diagnosis and new treatments in support of families.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a persons ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and often is accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis for which a cause and cure remain unknown.


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Contact: Jocelyn Uhl Duffy
UhlJH@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
18-Feb-2007


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