Monday, April 11, 2011

Common genetic cause of autism and epilepsy discovered

Common genetic cause of autism and epilepsy discovered

Researchers from the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) have identified a new gene that predisposes people to both autism and epilepsy.

Led by the neurologist Dr. Patrick Cossette, the research team found a severe mutation of the synapsin gene (SYN1) in all members of a large French-Canadian family suffering from epilepsy, including individuals also suffering from autism. This study also includes an analysis of two cohorts of individuals from Quebec, which made it possible to identify other mutations in the SYN1 gene among 1% and 3.5% of those suffering respectively from autism and epilepsy, while several carriers of the SYN1 mutation displayed symptoms of both disorders.

"The results show for the first time the role of the SYN1 gene in autism, in addition to epilepsy, and strengthen the hypothesis that a deregulation of the function of synapse because of this mutation is the cause of both diseases," notes Cossette, who is also a professor with the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal.



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