Gene Interaction Raises Autism Risk in Blacks and Whites
DURHAM, N.C. — A combination of two malfunctioning genes increases the risk of autism among African Americans, researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found. This same gene combination also increases the risk of autism in Caucasians, the Duke team reported in a 2005 study.
The researchers believe their new study is the first to examine the genetics of autism in African Americans, despite the disorder’s equal prevalence across ethnic groups.
The finding will be critical to developing new treatments for both African Americans and Caucasians, the researchers said.
“It is essential that we define which genes play a role in particular ethnic groups so we can devise treatments that target the specific malfunctioning genes,” said Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Human Genetics and senior author of the study.
The research is published in the online issue of Neurogenetics and will appear in the July, 2006 print edition of the journal. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Alliance of Autism Research, the Hussman Foundation and the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange.
Autism is characterized by repetitive behaviors and severe impairment in social interaction and communication. Up to 1.5 million people in the United States have autism, and it is the nation’s fastest growing developmental disability.
In their study, the Duke researchers analyzed the genes of 54 African American families and 557 Caucasian families in which a member had autism. They searched along chromosome 15, which had previously been linked to autism, for genes that regulate a brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, called GABA.
GABA inhibits nerve cells from firing once their message has been transmitted. In this way, the neurotransmitter acts as an information filter that prevents the brain from becoming over-stimulated.
If the GABA system malfunctions, the brain can be flooded with sensory information that overwhelms the brain’s processing capabilities, leading to some of the behaviors that characterize autism, said Michael Cuccaro, Ph.D., a Duke clinical psychologist and study co-author.
The researchers found that in African Americans and Caucasians, the interaction of two malfunctioning GABA receptor genes — GABRB1 and GABRA4 — can increase the risk of autism. GABA receptors are docking sites on the surface of brain cell neurons. GABA binds to these docking sites and inhibits the neurons from firing.”We found that GABRA4 increases of the risk of autism, and its interaction with GABRB1 further increases the risk of autism,” Pericak-Vance said.
Existing autism medications, including the sedative diazepam and certain antiepileptic drugs, already target the GABA system in a broad manner. But understanding the precise gene-gene interaction may enable scientists to develop new drugs that more precisely target the specific genes involved, the researchers said.Identifying genes that confer autism risk has been difficult precisely because multiple genes must interact to confer risk, Pericak-Vance said. In fact, scientists hypothesize that as many as 100 genes may be involved in autism.
“Multiple genes that by themselves have small effects can interact with one another to produce a large effect,” Pericak-Vance said.
Further complicating the search for autism genes, she said, is that each ethnic group possesses unique genes that can interact with autism-associated genes to slightly alter the course of the disease.
For example, certain symptoms associated with autism, such as delayed language development and problems handling daily life tasks, are more severe in African American individuals with autism than in Caucasians, Cuccaro said. Such differences make it important to understand the range of underlying genes that contribute to the disorder in various population groups.
“Many diseases, such as sickle cell and cystic fibrosis, have different genetic origins in African Americans versus other racial groups,” Cuccaro said. “The most effective drugs are those which target the specific genes that are malfunctioning, so we must define which genes play a role for each ethnic group.”
contact sources :
Margaret Pericak-Vance Ph.D. , (919) 684-2063
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.