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As new diagnostic tools and research techniques develop around the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders, more accurate diagnoses follow. ASDs can now be detected at an earlier age, but the specific causes are still unknown for these disorders, which affect 1 in 150 American children each year.

The largest collaborative effort in the area of genetics is the National Alliance for Autism Research’s (NAAR) Autism Genome Project. The project is designed to map the human genome in the search for autism susceptibility genes, the genes responsible for the inherited risk for autism.

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NAAR Autism Genome Project

In March 2006 a team of researchers identified a gene called CNTNAP2. When mutated, this gene indicates a predisposition to autism in a specific population of Old Order Amish children. With this information researchers can now begin to develop a diagnostic to test for the CNTNAP2 mutation.

The NAAR Autism Genome Project has also published more recently (February 2007) in Nature Genetics.

International Meeting of Autism Research

This past May, the seventh annual International Meeting for Autism Research was held in London and included more than 1,150 researchers worldwide. Presentations by attendees addressed areas of autism etiology, biology, diagnosis and treatment.

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For more news about current ASD findings, studies, or meetings, visit these sites:

Autism Speaks—Latest Research

National Institute of Mental Health

Specific science news related to Autism

Translational Genomics Research Institute
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