Researchers Are Closer to Understanding the Causes of Autism

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The causes of autism still haven’t been fully discovered. Until we understand it what exactly causes it, it’ll be hard to offer the best possible treatment to individuals on the spectrum. The more we know about the causes, the more we know about how it works and how we can help. Every time new research reveals just a nugget more of information, we get one step closer to that gold standard.

A recent study led by McMaster University zeroed in on a specific gene responsible for neurodevelopmental disorders–which includes autism.

What does the new study have to do with the causes of autism?

While this is the first comprehensive student to find this, it’s less about what they found and more about what they confirmed. This gene has been isolated before–this study has helped further strengthen the evidence showing this gene is directly linked to neurodevelopmental disorders.

The researchers found alterations in the gene known as TAOK2 has a direct link to neurodevelopmental disorders.

Study co-author and researcher, Karun Singh, explained why this research is exciting:

“Our studies reveal that in complex brain disorders that have a loss of many genes, a single deleted gene is sufficient to cause symptoms for the patients. This is exciting because it focuses our research effort on the individual gene, saving us time and money as it will speed up the development of targeted therapeutics to this gene alone.”

Why is this gene important?

Well, microdeletion causes most neurodevelopmental disorders. Microdeletion refers to large missing parts of genetic material in a person’s genome that also contain many genes. By being able to identify a microdeletion, a doctor can predict a patient’s outcome more accurately. Furthermore, they can figure out if new treatments are available.

The research team plans on stepping up from using genetically engineered models and computer algorithms. They want to start creating drugs that could help correct the gap mutations in TAOK2 cause.

Overall, this is promising research for the future of understanding the causes of autism and how to better help those struggling with it. Every new discovery concerning the causes of autism leads to potentially better treatment.

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