May 14, 2005

Chromosome 17

Research Getting Closer to Autism Gene
Robert Preidt

FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have honed in on a segment of chromosome 17 as the likely home of a gene strongly linked to autism.

In previous research, the same team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found this gene contributes to autism only in boys -- which may explain why boys are at much greater risk of developing autism than girls.

This is the first time scientists have been able to identify a predisposing gene for autism and then duplicate the finding -- an important step in providing scientific evidence, the researchers say.

The UCLA team is now conducting DNA testing in an effort to identify the precise location of the autism gene on chromosome 17. This research could lead to better screening and potential treatments for autism.

The study will appear in the June issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Autism is a developmental disorder that typically starts before age 3, and causes problems with communication and social interaction, among other difficulties, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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