The number of genes known to be associated with autism now stands at 102, researchers report.
They also said that they’ve made significant progress in distinguishing between genes associated with autism and those associated with intellectual disability and developmental delay, conditions that often overlap with autism.
The analysis of more than 37,000 genetic samples collected worldwide is the largest genetic sequencing study of autism to date, the researchers said.
The results were presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, in San Diego.
“With about twice as many samples as any previous studies, we were able to substantially increase the number of genes studied, as well as incorporate recent improvements to the analytical methodology,” said study author Mark Daly, chief of the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“By bringing together data from several existing sources, we hope to create a resource for definitive future analysis of genes associated with [autism],” he added in a society news release.
Of the 102 genes identified by the researchers, 47 were found to be more strongly associated with intellectual disability and developmental delay than autism, while 52 were more strongly related to autism. Three genes were reportedly related to both.
Study co-author Jack Kosmicki is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. “Being able to look at other disorders in connection to [autism] is significant and valuable for being able to explain the genetics behind the variety of possible outcomes,” Kosmicki said.
Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Learn more about autism at Autism Speaks.
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