Autism pathway from gene to brain found by UNC scientists

Researchers discover a potential cause of autism

Key enzymes are found to have a ‘profound effect’ across dozens of genes linked to autism. The insight could help illuminate environmental factors behind autism spectrum disorder and contribute to a unified theory of how the disorder develops.

… “Mark Zylka, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine, and his team believe they have figured out the rough outlines of one such pathway, from the tiny genetic glitch on the gene to the physical changes that the glitch causes in the brain. Like many discoveries, it piggybacked on the work of others, involved a little luck and has raised more questions for researchers. ” …

… “Both Zylka and Birnbaum of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences believe that in many cases, genetic mutations and outside factors probably work together to trigger autism. As Birnbaum puts it, people whose DNA puts them at risk may be “kind of pushed over the edge” when exposed to one or more of these triggers. With more and more people living with autism, it is becoming increasingly urgent to solve this question.” …

Sources and more information

  • UNC scientists pinpoint how a single genetic mutation increases autism risk,
    newsobserver, AUGUST 6, 2015.
  • UNC scientists trace autism ‘pathway’ from gene to brain,
    newsobserver, AUGUST 19, 2015.
  • Researchers discover a potential cause of autism,
    news.unchealthcare, August 28, 2013.

Have your say! Share your views