New study could lead to better treatments for autism

A new study which claims to have identified the gene responsible for autism could pave the way for new treatments in the near future, researchers have said.

Scientists in Toronto, Canada, have recently discovered that alterations in the gene known as 1001 amino-acid kinase 2 (TAOKS) appears to play a direct role in autism and related conditions.

Researchers have long known that the majority of common neurodevelopmental disorders tend to be caused by large pieces of either missing or mutated genetic material in a person’s genome. This is usually described as a ‘microdeletion’.

However, this study is the first to suggest that the TAOK2 gene has direct involvement in autism in particular.

Karun Singh from McMaster University in Canada, said: “Our studies reveal that in complex brain disorders that have a loss of many genes, a single deleted gene is sufficient to cause symptoms for the patients.

“This is exciting because it focuses our research effort on the individual gene, saving us time and money as it will speed up the development of targeted therapeutics to this gene alone,” he said.

“Our next step is to screen candidate drugs that correct the cognitive brain deficits caused by genetic mutations in TAOK2, and identify candidates for pilot clinical trials,” he added.

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