Risk-Gene for Autism Found

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LauraK
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Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby LauraK » Wed May 20, 2009 4:44 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090520/h ... 9189975600

In Jacob's summer camp for kids with Asperger's and mild Autism, there is only 1 girl. I just found this very interesting and positive and thought I'd share.

A Genetic Clue to Why Autism Affects Boys More

By ALICE PARK Alice Park – Wed May 20, 6:20 am ET
Among the many mysteries that befuddle autism researchers: why the disorder affects boys four times more often than girls. But in new findings reported online today by the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers say they have found a genetic clue that may help explain the disparity.


The newly discovered autism-risk gene, identified by authors as CACNA1G, is more common in boys than in girls (why that's so is still not clear), and the authors suggest it plays a role in boys' increased risk of the developmental disorder. CACNA1G, which sits on chromosome 17, amid other genes that have been previously linked to autism, is responsible for regulating the flow of calcium into and out of cells. Nerve cells in the brain rely on calcium to become activated, and research suggests that imbalances in the mineral can result in the overstimulation of neural connections and create developmental problems, such as autism and even epilepsy, which is also a common feature of autism. (See six tips for traveling with an autistic child.)


"Our current theories about autism suggest that the disorder is related to overexcitability at nerve endings," says Geri Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group that provided the genetic data used by the study's authors. "It's interesting to see that the gene they identified appears to modulate excitability of neurons."


For the new study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), combed the genetic database of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), a resource of DNA from 2,000 families with at least one autistic child. The scientists focused on the more than 1,000 genetic samples of families in which at least one son was affected by the disorder, prompted by the results of an earlier study using the same database, which identified a rich autism-related genetic region on chromosome 17 that contained genetic variants more common in boys than in girls. While nearly 40% of the general population has the most common form of CACNA1G, one variant of the gene was more prevalent in autistic boys, researchers found. "There is a strong genetic signal in this region," says Dr. Daniel Geschwind, director of UCLA's Center for Autism Research and Treatment and one of the study's co-authors. "But this gene doesn't explain all of that signal or even half of it. What that means is that there are many more genes in this region contributing to autism." (See pictures of inside a school for autistic children.)


That's not surprising for a disorder as complex as autism - actually, a spectrum of developmental disorders involving impairment in language, social behavior and certain physical behaviors - with symptoms that range widely in number and severity. So far, studies have linked a handful of genes, all of which play a role in the way nerve cells connect and communicate, with autism spectrum disorders. It's likely not only that a large number of genes contribute to the disorder, but also that a different combination of genes - as well as unique interactions between genes and environment - are responsible for each individual case of autism.


So it's certainly a daunting challenge to begin teasing out the individual genes that may contribute to autism, as the UCLA team has with CACNA1G, but databases like AGRE make the job slightly easier. The next step will be to try to use known autism genes to help develop screening tools or early interventions. "We are going to have a much better understanding of the causes of autism over the next five to 10 years," says Dawson. "We're in a period of great discovery."


Maybe in the not-too-distant-future they'll find a way to genetically halt autism. Wouldn't that be amazing?? :)
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby Emafer » Wed May 20, 2009 9:58 pm

This is really interesting. If it's linked to the improper transmital of calcium I wonder if that's the same as a calcium deficiency and can help to be treated by taking calcium supplements. Hmmmm.

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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby LauraK » Wed May 20, 2009 11:00 pm

If it were that simple, Jacob's Asperger's would be cured! He drinks a ridiculous amount of milk, loves string cheese, cottage cheese, regular cheese, muenster cheese, mac and cheese, yougurt, ice cream.......plus he takes kids vitamins. 99% of the time, he chooses milk over pop. 2%.

Maybe if they find a way to get it into the actual gene...I dunno...but it sure sounds promising, huh? :D

I know that some people believe a gluten-free or a lactose-free or other-free diets help their kids' symptoms to become less severe. Jenny McCarthy is one, it worked for her son. I just think it's like this article says- there are so many variables with Autism and all of the disorders on the spectrum that each child has to be looked at and treated individually. There won't be a blanket-cure for this, I don't think. But I love how far they've come so fast. :)
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby deliriumtree » Thu May 21, 2009 2:38 am

Mine would be cured as well. :lol: I take calcium supplements and eat an epic amount of cheese. Also more ice cream than I care to admit. :worry: Mac and cheese still a favorite. Only drink a little vanilla milk in the morning with vitamins though. I got to where I couldn't stomach plain milk after drinking soymilk for so long. But, lots of calcium foods for me as well.

Thanks for sharing Laura that was interesting!
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Emafer

Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby Emafer » Thu May 21, 2009 9:43 am

Right. I'm not a geneticist but I play one on TV hahaha. But yes, I'm sure it has to be treat on a case by case basis. If ONLY it were as simple at Dr. Emily thinks.

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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby LauraK » Thu May 21, 2009 7:07 pm

No worries, Dr. Emily.....you're talking to Dr. Laura here who sometimes thinks she knows more medical stuff than she actually does... :lol:
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby Emafer » Fri May 22, 2009 7:43 am

hahahaha, Laura, I'm totally like that. Just because I've been sick a lot and watch Grey's Anatomy sometimes I think I'm an expert hahaha.

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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby deliriumtree » Sat May 23, 2009 2:35 pm

Actually, I was wondering the other day if you may not be too far off. Not a cure perhaps but there's a reason why cheese must be a required part of every day. Well...other than the fact that I really like cheese that is. Maybe, I'd have even more trouble without so much dairy. Who knows...
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby LauraK » Sat May 23, 2009 9:48 pm

Oh good lord....there must be something to it. Jacob just told me that if he had to stop drinking milk to cure his asperger's, then he'll keep his asperger's! lol! :lol: Milk and cheese are his faves- milk is a must.

delirium- I've wondered a bit about these food-cures but I've never wanted to take him off his milk to find out. Like you, I thought maybe he'd have more trouble w/o it....he does seem to crave it so.
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby deliriumtree » Sun May 24, 2009 3:39 am

Yep! I feel the same about cheese. I'll just stay aspie! :lol:

I did try once to go to total vegan once. I seem to remember being even more withdrawn and having depression issues at that time. hmmmm....
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby LauraK » Sun May 24, 2009 6:17 am

Wow. Sounds like there is a connection. Very interesting indeed.
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Emafer

Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby Emafer » Mon May 25, 2009 7:28 pm

deliriumtree wrote:Yep! I feel the same about cheese. I'll just stay aspie! :lol:

I did try once to go to total vegan once. I seem to remember being even more withdrawn and having depression issues at that time. hmmmm....


With the depression it might have a lot to do with the lack of protein. I have massive depression and on of the ways I help control it is by monitoring my protein intake. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and my depression has never been better than since I've gone back to eating meat. Your body doesn't process vegetable base protein the same way it does animal protein and for me it's been really essential.

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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby deliriumtree » Wed May 27, 2009 10:43 pm

I've had thoughts of going back to meat eating, to see if I had more energy etc.. The few times I've tried eating a hamburger or something I got really sick though. So, incase I ever do decide to go back to eating meat (it can take years for me a to make a decision about anything) how did you go about switching back?
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Re: Risk-Gene for Autism Found

Postby LauraK » Wed May 27, 2009 11:41 pm

I'm just guessing as I'm a meateater....chicken being my fave, followed by delicious cow...:) but, I'd think you'd want to ease back in, a bit at a time. A hamburger would be a shock to the system, I'd guess. Maybe a nice pasta veggie ghoulash with a little bit of beef included.....or a fajita with just a bit of chicken.... :)
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