In April of this year a major study was reported in Science magazine that highlights the contribution of the father’s genomic information to their offspring.
Why is the Institute highlighting this particular article?
This report is a very important advancement in the field of autism research as it really starts to unravel a mystery pertaining to the perceived rise in the rates of autism in this country. A majority of autism studies assess environmental factors that associate with the disorder, that then could be perceived as causal. The one drawback to these types of studies is that they never truly address the root causes of the disorder, at the genetic level. However, these studies are still important because autism is a non-mendelian disorder meaning more than one gene contributes to a disorder when not properly expressed.
Without going into too many details the major crux of this report is that this disease could be heritable. So if you happen to be on the ASD spectrum and you have a child, your child may have an increase chance of being on the spectrum. That is an important concept to understand, because if a trait is heritable then research on families with those of autistic children can help us identify which genes are the cause (or at least the contributors) to the disorder.
What this paper focuses on is that genes deriving from the fathers genome are passed on to their heirs. Normally we say that this is a paternally inherited trait. Other traits that are believed to be inherited are things like male-pattern baldness, because it is observed that baldness in males is more strongly linked with the traits of the mother’s father. Regardless, this paper indicates that not only certain genes are linked to autism, but that certain areas of the genome that have yet to be explored could be at the root cause of the problem.
What does all this mean?
Much like other diseases, “junk DNA”—has been largely ignored in autism research. I believe the only way to understand what autism really is, and how to work with someone with autism, is to study the rest of the genome.
So please take a moment to read this paper, and if you have any questions do no hesitate to contact us by clicking the link here: Questions?
Brian D. Adams,
President and CEO of The Brain Institute of America