New Study Links 27 Genes to Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Empathy

Scientists from the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with either Asperger Syndrome, autistic traits, and/or empathy. The research is published July 16, 2009 issue of the Journal Autism Research. Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered a subgroup on the autistic spectrum. Autism Spectrum Conditions occur in about 1% of the population. They are diagnosed on the basis of difficulties in social relationships, communication, and adjusting to change, alongside unusually narrow interests.

The team looked at these genes in 349 adults in the general population, all of whom had filled in the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) as a measure of autistic traits, and the Empathy Quotient (EQ) as a measure of empathy. Then, they looked at 174 adults with a formal diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome only and compared them to controls.

The resulting research found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 27 out of the 68 genes were nominally associated with either AS and/or with autistic traits/empathy. According to the researchers, 5 of the genes found have been previously reported in autism, but the other 22 have never before been reported in association with AS, autistic traits or empathy. Click here to learn more about this fascinating research.

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