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Complex Gene Interactions Account for Autism Risk: AGRE Sample Used in Duke University Study

October 14, 2007

A recent report from the American Journal of Human Genetics identified an association between autism and several genes which respond to "slow and stop" signals in the brain. The group of scientists, led by Dr. Pericak-Vance of Duke University, used DNA from 470 families affected by autism to look for associations between autism and the genes involved in receiving the signals from a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA. Nearly half of the families whose DNA was used for these experiments are participants in AGRE, the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, a program of Cure Autism Now. Importantly, this study also identified that there was an interaction between two specific genes responsible for receiving the GABA signal of "slow or stop." This finding supports the idea that many geneticists have voiced regarding the complexity of autism. It appears that it is due to multiple interacting causes, genetic and possibly environmental, which contribute to the disorder and make understanding it very difficult.

Read the full story from Duke Medical Center here.