Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.
- Autism is one of the world’s most urgent public health challenges
- Around one in 120 newborns is likely to have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making it more common than type 1 diabetes, childhood cancer and cystic fibroses combined
- The cost of treating autism is some $35 billion annually worldwide
- Genes are the most likely culprit in causing autism, whether directly or indirectly, in upwards of 80-90% of individuals with ASD
The Research Solution
- Drs. Stephen Scherer, Peter Szatmari and their team at The Hospital for Sick Children are using a $9.9 million LSARP award to help discover and characterize all of the genes involved in autism
- This ground-breaking work will mark Canada’s contribution to an ambitious international initiative that aims to sequence and analyze the genomes of 10,000 people with autism spectrum disorder.
- This work will help to facilitate early diagnoses, better medical management and individualize approaches to ASD treatment
- By discovering all the autism rick genes, studies of environmental influences in ASD will be possible
- Numerous disease susceptibility genes have already been discovered and other genetic factors underlying autism have been defined
- Recently, Dr. Scherer and his team discovered that a number of autism cases are linked to a gene found on the X chromosome, helping to explain why boys are four times more likely than girls to develop ASD
- Current thinking is that there is over 100 different genes involved in autism, with 15% of those identified to date
- The hope is that this information will help the development of drugs to treat autism
For more information on autism, visit: www.autismspeaks.ca