Research has found autism genetically linked. Investigators eager to uncover the genetic basis of autism could now have hundreds of promising new leads thanks to a study by Princeton University and Simons Foundation researchers.
In the first effort of its kind, the research team developed a machine-learning program that scoured the whole human genome to predict which genes may contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The results of the program’s analyses — a rogue’s gallery of 2,500 candidate genes — vastly expand on the 65 autism-risk genes currently known. Researchers have recently estimated that 400 to 1,000 genes underpin the complex neurodevelopmental disorder.
This newest research provides a manageable, “highly enriched” pool from which to pin down the full suite of ASD-related genes, the researchers said. Many of the newly implicated genes have never been studied for their possible roles in ASD. Following up on these leads will help scientists delve deeper into autism’s strong yet byzantine genetic basis, as well as possibly lead to new diagnostic and treatment techniques.