Sunday, 3 June 2012

Autism Genome Project - Recent Developments

In 2004 the Autism Genome Project (AGP) was piloted as the largest study to cover the genetic aspects of Autism. The goal was to determine the genes that play a role in children inheriting the ones that lead to Autism. The technology of DNA and 120 genetic researchers combined their knowledge and skills to complete the study. The researchers came from 50 different research institutes and 19 different countries. Each one of them brought different DNA samples to the project so that the theory of genetics playing a role in Autism could be confirmed or denied.

It was believed that once this could be determined, doctors could help identify the risk factor a couple had of their child being born with Autism. This could definitely help lead researchers to preventing Autism as well as eventually finding a cure for it.

The initial phase of the project involved scanning the collected samples of DNA. These belong to 1,200 families who have a child with Autism. The next phase was to analyze the results from the scanned DNA. This would allow the genes dominate in individuals with Autism to be identified. To arrive at this information the genome of 23 pairs of chromosomes were carefully reviewed.

The results of the AGP show conclusive evidence that support the theory of genetics playing a significant role in the risk of Autism. This has lead the research to begin focusing on discovering if a specific genetic make up is present for Autism to occur or if the genetic factors mixed with environmental factors result in Autism.

The AGP definitely laid a solid foundation for other research to build upon. There is plenty more investigating that has to be done regarding the environmental factors and genetics. But there is hope this research will one day lead to a biological diagnosis and better treatment options for those diagnosed with Autism. The AGP is definitely a step in the right direction for offering hope that one day a cure for Autism will be found.

By : Caleb Liu