Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart April 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Oxford-based research into autism has hit a major breakthrough, equivalent to one which revoluntionised the understanding of cancer 30 years ago. Scientists at Oxford University were one of three major studies to have identified the genetic mechanisms underlying autistic disorders. Thousands of volunteers had their DNA screened and the scientists believe it has lifted the lid on the causes of autism.

They believe proteins called cell adhesion molecules, which play a vital role in shaping brain “wiring”, and the way nerve cells communicate, play a key role in autism disorders. Study leader, Prof Tony Monaco, from the Wellcome Trust for Human Genetics at Oxford, said: “Most of the genes that have been identified in these studies are involved in the connections between neurons called synapses.

“This does seem to fit with what we know from brain scans — that people with autism may show different or reduced connectivity between different parts of the brain. “This new knowledge allows us to focus our studies on developing new treatments and intervention therapies for the future.” Autism covers a group of conditions known as autism spectrum disorders and affects about one in 150 children, most of whom are male. They find it harder to communicate, have repetitive and narrowly focused behaviour.

Oxford Mail (Thanks Tash)

April 30, 2009 at 11:39 pm
Neil says:

I heard autism described as “extreme maleness” and having worked with many autistic people I can sort of see it.

May 1, 2009 at 12:01 am
Rebecca says:

I have nothing intelligent to say, but w00t! That’s awesome!

I wonder if there are a lot of people out there that are neurologically between autism and definitely not-autism (or apserger’s). I know alzheimers and other dementia stuff is degenerative, but maybe there’s similiar stuff going on with myelination? Or maybe the thing that’s going on with the synapses is completely different?

I wish I weren’t so out of my depth with neuroscience.

May 1, 2009 at 1:16 am
Josh says:

That is fantastic! Cheers for relaying the information. I wonder if the breakthrough has any applications in other areas as well.

May 1, 2009 at 10:36 am
tash says:

when diagnosing my daughter they did a multi disaplinary assessment where she say specialists in areas such as speech, medical, psychologist, hearing etc and then they put all the investigations together to get an autistic diagnosis. Its apparently harder to diagnose when they’re younger as it can be confused with global delay.

January 10, 2010 at 9:16 pm
Tom Butler says:

As the father of a seven year old autistic boy what does this really mean to my son and me?


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