Yale study helping explain development of autism


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A new autism study out of Yale University is helping explain just how the disorder develops.

Yale researchers focused on one gene strongly linked to autism, specifically, how this gene interacted with other genes also associated with autism. The focus is giving them an entree to a clearer understanding of the biology behind the neuro-developmental disorder.

The CDC says one in 68 children in the US fall on the autism spectrum disorder. Yale researchers are unlocking the mystery on how genetics could play a role in the biology of autism.

“The genetic evidence is overwhelming,” Dr. James Noonan of the Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Noonan is the principal investigator of a study that focused on the gene CHD-8, strongly associated with autism.

“What other genes does it control in the brain?” said Dr. Noonan. “What we found is that it controlled other genes that show a risk for autism.”

They found it controlled a total of eight genes that show a risk for autism.

“What our results suggest is that sometime in midfield development there is some change in brain development, they maybe quite subtle, but it’s something we can study,” said Dr. Noonan.

If they can grasp a better understanding of how that happens, Dr. Noonan says there is a potential of eventually developing a treatment for autism.

“The evidence is now fairly strong the biologic-an mechanisms,” he said. “Basically what is affected in the brain is something that happens before birth when the brain is put together.”

Dr. Noonan says there are over 50 genes linked to autism that control other genes, just like CHD-8. This is just the beginning of understanding the role of genetics in autism.

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