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Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery
Date:4/24/2014

"This result warrants an immediate referral to a neurologist," explains senior author Stephen Scherer of the Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto. Similarly, CNV testing indicated a high risk for muscular dystrophy in several of the autism families and identified syndromes associated with heart problems in others.

CNVs are genetic changes that involve duplication or deletion of entire segments of DNA. They do not typically show up on standard genetic tests which search for "spelling mistakes" in the DNA letters that compose a gene. Those standard tests identify a clear genetic autism link in only 15 to 20 percent of the cases.

"This report and its extensive supplements should become a new guidebook for medical geneticists working with families affected by autism," Dr. Scherer says.

In addition, the study added dozens of genes to the growing list of those that contribute to the development of autism. Surprisingly, the autism genes identified through CNV testing had little overlap with those detected using standard exome gene sequencing, yet researchers say they affect the same brain pathways.

"These gene discoveries will help guide further research on autism subtypes and their treatment," Dr. Scherer says.

In response, the investigators urge medical geneticists to add CNV testing to the standard gene tests for autism and to consult medical recommendations for the many autism-linked syndromes that CNV testing can reveal. CNV testing is currently available, though it's not typically part of standard genetic testing for autism. Whole genome sequencing is the next step in genetic testing for Autism but is not yet widely available in ordinary medical settings. Autism Speaks has taken a world-leadership position in in this direction with its Au
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Contact: Steffanie Marchese
steffanie.marchese@autismspeaks.org
646-345-8537
Autism Speaks
Source:Eurekalert  

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