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Study: Middle Eastern Families Yield Intriguing Clues to Autism

July 10, 2008

Researchers at Harvard University have discovered half a dozen new genes involved in autism that suggest the disorder strikes in a brain that can't properly form new connections. The scientists made the discovery by studying the genes of Middle Eastern families in societies where marriage by cousins is common. The findings also may help explain why intense education programs do help some children with autism — because certain genes that respond to experience weren't missing, they were just stuck in the "off" position. The study was published in the July 11 edition of the journal Science. Cure Autism Now and the National Alliance for Autism Research, which have both merged with Autism Speaks, contributed funding to this project.

Click here for a press release from Children's Hospital Boston

Plus, see coverage from NBC Nightly News, featuring an interview with Andy Shih, vice president for scientific affairs for Autism Speaks, ABC News, and the Associated Press.