Scientists claim new hope for victims of autism

June 9, 2010 (CHICAGO)

In the largest study ever into the genetics of autism scientists have identified new genetic variations that are more common in children with the condition.

The report in the journal Nature says some of the rare DNA glitches are inherited from parents. But many seem to be showing up for the first time in the person with autism. Researchers say this uniqueness may make it more difficult to design drug therapies that work across a wide rage of autistic spectrum disorders.

But the discovery could also pave the way for an earlier diagnosis.

Rush University Medical Center child psychiatrist Louis Kraus says genetics are just one part of the disorder and that environment also plays a role.

"We've always been under the belief since years back that -- once we crack the generic code -- that we would find the gene that causes autism. But in reality, what we find is that it is a multitude of genes that interact with one another, and in certain ways, with likely types of stimuli autism results."

Dr. Kraus says the ultimate treatment would be a way to correct the faulty gene but says that is a long way off. He cautions parents to beware of treatments without a scientific basis that promise a fix right now.

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