Study identifies more genes tied to autism, researchers say findings an important step

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Benjamin Owen falls in the 2 percent of Utah children who have an autism spectrum disorder.

"I have a 7-year-old son who was diagnosed,” said Jon Owen, who is Benjamin’s father and the President of the Utah Autism Coalition. “He was diagnosed fairly early with a learning disability and later we got the autism diagnoses."

Jon said he welcomes any research that works to find out more about the disorder.

"The more we know about how it works and how people learn and how they function, I think is a good thing," Owen said.

According to the Utah Autism Monitoring Project, one in 54 Utah children have an autism spectrum disorder. Researchers said a new study is one step in the right direction to find the answer for autism.

"This study changed the number of genes that we know are associated with autism fourfold,” said Doctor Deborah Bilder, Associate Professor at the University of Utah Department of Psychiatry. “As a result, we now understand what could be causing autism.”

Deborah Bilder is one of the Utah researchers playing a key role in an ongoing international study to find the underlying cause of autism. A study published earlier this week indicates researchers found a dramatically expanded list of genes identified with autism

"This allows us to start understanding much more in detail what could be going on with autism,” Bilder said. “Because in order to change the course of autism from a biological perspective, we need to understand what's going on.”

Bilder said the study is the largest of its kind. Researchers looked at DNA samples from 14,000 people, including more than 100 Utahns.

"This lets us know where to hone in,” Bilder said. “So as you look at things at a closer and closer level, now we know where to start looking at mechanisms and where to focus our researching efforts.”

Families, including the Owen family, are looking forward to other studies that may come from this research.

"There's some hope that through research like this they'll be able to maybe come up with pharmaceuticals or something that could help with those things,” Owen said. “It might be down the line, but it's good it might be coming.”


  • Barry Cohen

    Many people are fighting Autism and Aspergers Syndrome by detoxing (removing) the Mercury included in vaccines that goes by the three names thermisol, thimerosal and thiomersal from their children’s body’s after being vaccinated. These mercury products are added to vaccines to prevent microbial and fungus growth.  Many cases of Autism and Aspergers are being discovered soon after vaccinations that include mercury are carried out! A number of people that are concerned about Autism related disorders are now suggesting that the ingestable natural mineral called Zeolite will do the best job of safely removing this mercury from the body as well as lead and all other toxic heavy metals. For more information on this important detox do a simple search for the single word Zeolite.

    • bob

      Total nonsense. Only in America does anyone still believe that hoax. It originated in England, where a lawyer dreamed up a plan to scam money out of vaccine makers. He enlisted the help of a prominent (but dishonest) doctor, and they invented the vaccine-autism link out of thin air. The doctor did time in jail. Now YOU are perpetuating the hoax.

      Zeolite will do NOTHING to detox your blood. Common sense says so.

      There is less mercury in the entire lifetime vaccine series than in a single tuna sandwich.

      • Grace

        While I’m not in agreement with the post you’re responding to, your post is hardly accurate either. Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, whose new book “Stonewalled” just came out and includes some of these details, documented just how reliable the research (and media) have been regarding the vaccine controversy. I was 5 mos pregnant with my 3rd son when I had a “silver” (mercury) amalgam replaced & he is on the spectrum. I looked at the govt’s 1997 report on mercury & his issues are right in line with those of children who have received chronic, low level mercury exposures. I would encourage readers to do their own research instead of trusting those who have a ve$ted interest in keeping the boat from rocking.

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