102 genes connected to autism identified: Researchers

New Delhi: In the largest genetic study of its kind, researchers have identified 102 genes associated with the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — a condition that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and interact.

According to the researchers, including those from the Mount Sinai Health System in the US, the current study shows significant progress in understanding the genes in humans associated with ASD which play a part in the symptoms of intellectual disability and developmental delay.

In the study, published in the journal Cell, the scientists analysed more than 35,000 participant samples, including nearly 12,000 with ASD, making it the largest autism sequencing research to date.

They identified 102 genes associated with ASD risk, of which 49 were also linked to other developmental delays.

“This is a landmark study, both for its size and for the large international collaborative effort it required. With these identified genes we can begin to understand what brain changes underlie ASD and begin to consider novel treatment approaches,” said Joseph D. Buxbaum, study co-author from Mount Sinai Health System.

The researchers showed that ASD genes impact brain development or function, and that both types of disruptions can contribute to autism.

They also found that two major classes of nerve cells — excitatory neurons and and inhibitory neurons — can be affected in autism.

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