Autism spectrum disorders affect around one percent of the world’s population and are characterized by a range of difficulties in social interaction and communication. In a new study published in Cell, a team of researchers led by Gaia Novarino, Professor at IST Austria, has identified a new genetic cause of ASD. Gaia Novarino explains why this finding is significant: “There are many different genetic mutations causing autism, and they are all very rare. This heterogeneity makes it difficult to develop effective treatments. Our analysis not only revealed a new autism-linked gene, but also identified the mechanism by which its mutation causes autism. Excitingly, mutations in other genes share the same autism-causing mechanism, indicating that we may have underscored a subgroup of ASDs.”
“The identification of novel genes, especially in heterogeneous diseases such as autism, is difficult. However, as result of a collaborative effort, we were able to identify mutations in a gene called SLC7A5 in several patients born to consanguineous marriages and diagnosed with syndromic autism”, points out Dr. Caglayan, Chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics in the School of Medicine at Istanbul Bilim University in Turkey and co-author of the study.