Researchers in the United States of America believe they are a step closer to understanding the cause of developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders. A new technology they have developed will give us a better understanding of genetics.
Experts from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT are working on genetic technology that will help them deduce the causes of several diseases. It will give us a better understanding of the genetics behind autism, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other genetic conditions whose causes are not known now, they say. Their work was also recently published in the journal Science.
The existing knowledge we have on genetic contributors of autism has only been able to identify one gene as a causative factor, and several ‘risk genes’ that increase the chances of a person having them developing developmental issues. The technology developed by the team over the last five years is called ‘perturb seq’, which helps to identify the changed expression of genes in thousands of individual cells by using gene sequencing.
Developmental neurobiologist Dr Paola Arlotta who is the principal researcher at Arlotta Lab in Harvard University says her team has found there are multiple genetic factors at play, but more research is needed to identify the genetic context of brain and functionality development.
The scientific community has lauded this as a step in the right direction showing promising results.