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Gene test for autism by next year?

20 Jul 05

Scientists who have discovered a gene linked to autism believe they can use the new knowledge to work out an individual's risk of the condition.
The French team from IntegraGen SA hope to have a working risk assessment test on the market by the end of 2006.

Lead researcher Dr Jorg Hager said: "This is the first time that the protein PRKCB1, and the brain functions that it is involved with, have been associated with autism.

"We think that this is a significant development."

Professor Sir Michael Rutter, an expert in autism at the Institute of Psychiatry, said: "These are interesting and promising findings. We need more studies to confirm them."

He did not think it would necessarily be helpful or practical to use the knowledge to develop a risk assessment test because not all of the people with the genes would necessarily develop severe autism.

"The real potential for research of this kind is that it can, in conjunction with other research, lead to an understanding of what the disease processes are. In turn, that could lead to new treatments."

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